Boipelo Awuah has become both a champion of the sport of skateboarding and a role model for countless young, aspiring female skaters.
IN THE WORLD of skateboarding, there are legendary figures who have conquered the sport, and there are those who, against all odds, carve their own unique paths to greatness.
Boipelo Awuah, a 17-year-old skateboarding prodigy from Kimberley, undoubtedly falls into the latter category. Known as the top-ranked female skater in Africa, Boipelo has become both a champion of the sport and a role model for countless young, aspiring female skaters.
But where did Boipelo’s incredible journey begin?
Recently, the DFA had the privilege of sitting down with the skateboarding sensation to uncover the origins of her passion for this exhilarating sport.
Boipelo told the DFA that her introduction to skateboarding came at a young age, and it was a serendipitous moment that sparked her love for the board.
“When I was small, I used to watch my brother skate with his friends in the street, and it always looked so cool to skate. At the age of five years old, I picked up a skateboard for the first time in my life. I was very fortunate at the time because it was the same time that the skate park was being built in Kimberley,” she recounted with a smile.
Back when the skate park was a mere construction site, Boipelo was the sole female skater in the area. Undeterred, she spent hours daily honing her skills, mastering moves, and gradually making a name for herself in the local skateboarding community.
With limited female skating peers, Boipelo had to learn the ropes by observing the boys, drawing inspiration from her brother, who became her primary mentor and role model. “I had to look at what the boys were doing, learn from them on how to do tricks, and also watch lots of YouTube videos of skating,” she explained.
Boipelo’s dedication and persistence bore fruit when, at the tender age of 10, she wowed crowds by clinching victory at the International Maloof Money Cup. This triumph put the Northern Cape Province firmly on the skateboarding map and set her on the path to an illustrious career.
With a sense of pride in her voice, she mentioned that she has qualified for every Olympics qualifier since 2020 and has recently claimed victory in the In Line Skate Tournament once again.
However, her journey to the pinnacle of the sport was not without its challenges. In 2021, Boipelo’s dream of participating in the Tokyo Olympics was dashed when a practice session injury prevented her from competing. The disappointment in her voice was evident, but she resiliently stated, “Everything happens for a reason,” and that she has grown wiser with more experience.
Despite her hardships, Boipelo remains unwavering in her dedication to the sport. She practises tirelessly, spending around two hours daily at the skatepark. However, recent renovations that temporarily closed the park have disrupted her preparations for the Olympic qualifier scheduled in Japan this December.
“When you look at the international skaters, you can see that they are on top of their game,” Boipelo observed. “They have so much support and many parks to choose from. They travel as a team with coaches, physiotherapists, managers, and support staff, with all their expenses covered by their federations. Unfortunately, our local government has not been assisting us skaters when it comes to Olympic qualifiers and the Olympics.”
She continued, “It seems like going to represent your province and your country at the Olympics on an international level is not good enough. So my family is always trying to get enough funds together to make sure that I can compete against the best.”
Despite the hurdles she faces, Boipelo is grateful for the top-notch skate park in Kimberley, which has helped her acclimatise to the high standards of international skate parks. She sees the park as not just a place to skate but as a platform for young people to transform their lives, much like it has done for her.
Meanwhile, the Head of Communications at the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Thandi Modibela, told the DFA that the department recognises the safety concerns surrounding the skatepark.
“Currently, the skatepark is closed for maintenance purposes until the end of this month. This decision has been made to ensure the safety of all athletes and visitors who frequent the facility. Maintenance is essential to maintaining the quality and safety of the skatepark, and we apologise for any inconvenience this temporary closure may cause,” she said.
According to Modibela, the department is fully aware and immensely proud of Boipelo’s outstanding accomplishments, especially her recent triumph at the Street Line Skateboarding Tournament. Boipelo, Modibela said, has been a shining example of dedication and passion within the skateboarding community. The department has had the privilege of being a part of her skateboarding journey, she added.
“As Boipelo prepares for the next round of competition, we extend our heartfelt best wishes to her. We firmly believe that her talents and hard work will continue to bring honour to the Northern Cape and South Africa on national and international platforms.
“Boipelo’s journey, including her ability to secure sponsorship, has been significantly influenced by the support and initiatives championed by the department. We remain dedicated to fostering local talent and providing opportunities for athletes like Boipelo.
“Her success is a testament to the collaborative efforts of the community and various stakeholders,” concluded Modibela.
With her sights firmly set on qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics, Boipelo continues to break down barriers, inspire aspiring skaters, and represent Africa with pride in the world of skateboarding.
Her story is one of determination, resilience, and unwavering dedication, showing that no dream is too big for those who dare to chase it on a skateboard.