Kochi's first skateboarding community is making space for more women

The President of Fly Squad speaks about the daring sport and its scope in India for the younger generation

If you have walked past Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, where, in the evenings, you could not have missed these champions zipping past on their skateboards. But you must've wondered who they are, surely? Fly Squad is one of Kochi’s first skateboarding communities. And as one of the biggest groups of women skateboarders, they are probably pretty rare to find in India. The President of Fly Squad, Sreekumar Santhosh dreams of travelling the world with his yellow striped skateboard placed faithfully under his feet. Two years ago, Sreekumar and his closest friends wondered why the sport, that they are most passionate about, barely existed in the country. He says, “We taught ourselves how to skate with the help of YouTube tutorials and a few rough trials out on the road. But we wished to see more people indulging in it.”

Fly Squad members can be seen skateboarding past 7:30 pm on the stadium grounds, their main focus being to gather enough attention to at least ask the right questions about skateboarding and get people interested in it. “We want to do whatever it takes to get the concept of the sport across to more people. A lot of girls have approached us and asked us how we manage to maintain balance and if they can do it just as easily themselves. One try is all it takes for them to know that it’s definitely something they can master and they fall in love with it," says Sreekumar. They make it a point to get out into the streets whenever they can. The team can be seen Monday to Friday cruising around the city in their colourful clothes. They collaborate with hip hop groups and DMX practitioners to gain more visibility. In fact, the team has become a fan favourite during major events in the city where they roll into the scene and get people interested in what they represent.

Sreekumar says, “Indian people, in general, are very ignorant about skateboarding. The scene has been barely existant across the country. Especially in Kerala, it took a few years before we could actually start to see skateboarders around. Recently, it became a part of the Olympics and that's really got people talking about it. Now, people are starting to get fascinated by it.” Currently, there are around 10-20 people across India who are skateboarding on a professional level. Sreekumar and his friends swear that it’s the vibe that really attracts them to skateboarding. “It’s the closest we can get to flying as humans. It is such a liberating feeling to be able to skate anywhere you want. We go to a lot of different places on our skateboards. It’s amazing to see little girls and boys pick it up and discover their love for it for the first time!” In November, the team hopes to expand its base to other parts of the city.