American skateboard legend and video game hero Tony Hawk paid a visit to Cambodia last Thursday. The star came to amaze and inspire children with his spectacular tricks at the Phnom Penh-based skateboard NGO Skateistan.
Alix Buck, development manager at the NGO, said Skateistan uses skating as a tool for empowerment in Cambodia by inspiring children to have fun and form a better community.
Hawk himself had been a strategic supporter of Skateistan and a fan of the organisation for a long time, with his influence shaping the skateboarding community, the manager said.
“Skating is a super fun aspect and if they [children] really take to it then maybe they will have a future in skating itself . . . Skating teaches us so many other things as well about self-confidence, perseverance, determination and also about believing in yourself,” Hawk said in an exclusive interview with LIFT and the Phnom Penh Post.
Though mostly unknown in Cambodia, the few skateboard enthusiasts in the Kingdom were thrilled by the great Hawk’s presence. He performed spectacular kick-flips and the likes for an entire hour. With the cheering and shouting of the crowd, the show evolved into an autograph and selfie session.
“I have no words to describe this. It is like a dream, seeing him doing his incredible tricks in front of me here . . . he is amazing. I had only seen him on youtube but now . . . I have really seen him,” said Steve Luon, 22, who came to see his skateboard idol at the NGO.
Luon’s amazement was shared by Sokserey, the only skater girl present, who said she wants to see more young Cambodians getting involved in skating.