The first Janwaar Castle Skateboard Challenge recently concluded, and it turned into a great celebration for the residents of Janwaar village. With competing skateboarders from their home turf as well as Mumbai, Varanasi, Kolkata, Kovalam and Delhi, November 12-14 grew into more of a festival than a competition. Judges Julian Dykmans of Belgium, Graham Sinclair from Canada and Samuel Silva from Brazil, were amazed by the talent, to say the least, but the biggest shocker came from Minister of Parliament Nagendra Singh who promised to give Janwaar Castle INR 1 crore from the Lok Sabha Fund.
“I saw this project coming up for some time and I saw people trying to make a platform for skateboarding. Apart from the sport, I saw tribal people coming forward to participate and there was a lot of bonhomie to be witnessed,” MP Nagendra Singh told Homegrown. He was one of the special guests attenting the challenge and also gave out awards and certificates to winners. “Young Adivasi boys are motivated to study and interact here and I thought it would be a good idea to place this amount here where a lot can be established, children of the village will get to explore more, people will participate more, be motivated for studies and instead of using the amount to build schools and rooms, I think the team will create a wholesome infrastructure for kids,” he commented.
Ulrike Reinhard, founder of Janwaar Castle, wasn’t expecting such a big amount at all. “It came completely as a surprise. He said it during his 5 minute speech before he handed over the prizes/awards. He was there for 3-4 hours during the finals and the award ceremony. I had a long briefing conversation with him at the same day…he listened carefully, asked the right questions but I was far from expecting such an announcement, something must have been convincing,” she told us over e-mail.
She has many plans on how to use the funds once they are allocated, stating, “We will invest in basic infrastructure in the village like solar power, various water solutions, improvement in the school, community center, Internet access, land for a new skatepark with a different level in difficulties and the rest will be invested in other locations to build up a broader range of skateparks in MP with the goal to send one of the rural kids to Tokyo 2020 where skateboarding is for the first time Olympic discipline.”
Singh was not fully aware of the ongoings of the event but had heard a little about what was happening at Janwaar, located in Madhya Pradesh. “I met a few people who are already good skateboarders. I saw the atmosphere and found it very conducive for growth. I am told that this sport will also be included in the Olympics soon and we could create something for children here in remote areas so that they can train and compete,” he said.
Singh believes that a lot can be achieved in these areas. “When we talk about sports, we look at cities and the infrastructure that they have when we have tremendous talent lying dormant right here in our tribal and village belts. The country should open up its infrastructure opportunities in these remote areas and it could be a beginning for a lot bigger things in future. This sport doesn’t require a lot of space and the athletes coming from these regions could utilize their talent for the country. My focus is to bring the facilities in such villages,” he said.
The Oxelo by Decathlon team provided over 40 skateboards for champions along with boxes of accessories. The winner got to spend an entire day with world champion Nyjah Huston at Janwaar Castle. The international BLAM Studio film team comprising of people from Belgium, Sweden and France were also present at the challenge.
The MP and authorities from Janwaar will meet on December 6 to talk things through. You can find out more about the challenge here and our previous articles covering the incredible work of Janwaar Castle here.
Video Courtesy: Oxelo and the BLAM Studio film team
Feature image courtesy: Vicky Roy