Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Brunei Town

Thirty, thriving and trucking

Berakas Skatedium reveals a vibrant local skate scene, with enthusiasts in their prime sharing their love for the sport

In your 30s, juggling career, family and personal goals can side-line health. Yet, staying active is important for long-term well-being. Balancing responsibilities while prioritising health ensures a thriving, fulfilling life amid life’s whirlwind.

Having interviewed Mike Boisvert at the Skatedium in Berakas recently, I also spoke with local skaters, many in their early to mid-30s, revealing a unique aspect of Brunei’s local skate scene.

Meet Aerul Mardini, Pengiran Md Amir Riyadhuddin, Bam Johari and Wadi Bob – passionate skateboarders who embraced skateboarding as a way of life.

PHOTO: ENVATO

PERSISTENT PASSION

A regulatory officer at a local pharmaceutical company by day, 36-year-old Aerul Mardini is a father of three who found his skateboarder calling in 2002 from watching the X Games and Tony Hawk like many Bruneians who got into the sport.

“I started off rollerblading, then made the switch to skateboarding because – well – you know that Malay saying ‘angat-angat tayi ayam’,” he said.

He made the switch because of how the hype behind rollerblading died down, especially in his neighbourhood, and skateboarding was very much alive then. He has stuck to skateboarding ever since.

While not drawn to competitions, the 36-year-old focused on the joy skateboarding brought him outside of contests, eschewing the competitive aspect. For Aerul, the importance of continuing to skate boils down to passion.

“It’s ingrained in who I am – I simply can’t not skate. However, with the responsibilities of being a parent, I’ve naturally mellowed out a bit.”

Gone are the days when Aerul would feel frustrated if he couldn’t hit the skate park, especially when the weather turned sour. He said nowadays he can go a day or two without skating, but the longing to return to the board always remains.

In his downtime at home, he often finds himself immersed in video games, and about a year ago, he was particularly active in the virtual skateboarding community, engaging in a skateboarding simulation game where he became somewhat of a virtual pro-skateboarder.

His children often saw him gaming and creating skateboarding content, a glimpse into his passion even indoors. He’s eager to teach them if they show interest, but believes in letting them explore their own passions without pressure.

Aerul Mardini, Pengiran Md Amir Riyadhuddin, Bam Johari and Wadi Bob. PHOTO: KHAYR ZAKARIYYA

Pengiran Md Amir Riyadhuddin, known affectionately as Boi at the skate park, began his journey in 2004 amidst a challenging period of undergoing chemo and radiotherapy treatment for thyroid cancer in Singapore.

During his visits to the skate park in Somerset, he found solace in watching others skate, igniting a spark of interest that he would carry back with him to Brunei.

Having participated in competitions throughout 2007 to 2009, Boi took a hiatus from skateboarding to explore other sports during a period of uncertainty about his interests. However, COVID-19 reignited his passion, reuniting him with friends at the skate park, where his love for skateboarding persists.

“As a cancer survivor, I was told I couldn’t do any sports or go under the sun and the like, but I wanted to prove people wrong.”

Reflecting on his skating journey, Boi acknowledges the evolution of his approach, noting that with age and added responsibilities like parenthood, he approaches skating with a newfound sense of caution.

“It’s definitely important to keep active at this age though, especially as an avenue to release the stresses of work and daily life,” shared Boi.

PHOTO: FREEPIK

Meanwhile, 37-year-old Bam Johari said his journey with skateboarding traces back to his days in Form 3 (Year 9), circa 2001.

Dedicated to skateboarding despite life interruptions, Bam finds joy and fulfilment in the sport. He actively competed in local events during his formative years.

While the skate scene experienced fluctuations over time, with periods of both growth and decline, Bam remained steadfast in his commitment to the sport. He ventured as far as Miri, Sarawak, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and even Singapore for the Asian Federation X Games, showcasing his passion and dedication on a regional stage.

Influenced by skateboarding uncles and neighbourhood camaraderie, Bam found his passion in skating. Mastering new tricks brought him a sense of accomplishment and personal growth over the past two decades.

“There’s the thrill, adrenaline or rush trying to chase that one trick for days, weeks or months, and when you finally land it, you feel that adrenaline. That’s what I love about skateboarding,” shared Bam.

At 34, Wadi Bob’s journey into skateboarding commenced around 2002, during his time in Form 2 (Year 8), at the tender age of 14. The spark ignited when he delved into the world of Tony Hawk’s skateboarding game on the PlayStation 1, where he marvelled at the manoeuvres executed by virtual skaters, particularly the elusive Ollie.

In an era devoid of YouTube tutorials, Wadi and his friends embarked on a quest to unravel the secrets of skateboarding.

Armed with a makeshift long skateboard, they tirelessly mimicked the moves they observed in the game, pausing and replaying to dissect each trick meticulously. After countless attempts, their persistence bore fruit, albeit on the forgiving surface of a carpet. The acquisition of his own skateboard marked the genesis of Wadi’s enduring love affair with skateboarding. Despite the simplicity of his initial deck skateboard with a fading grip, his passion for the sport flourished with time.

In the halcyon days of 2002 and 2008, Wadi’s dedication saw him actively engaging in skateboarding, even venturing into local competitions where he clinched several victories.

However, as the responsibilities of adulthood beckoned with employment much like others his age, his time for skating ebbed, leading him to explore other interests.

“It was through skateboarding that I found my other passions like videography, which later brought me to meet more people with different ideas.

“The connections you’re able to make while you’re outside the country is even easier to make, we could just meet random people and ask them if they skate and have them bring us to their favourite skate spots,” Wadi said.

Approaching his mid-30s, he acknowledged the shifting dynamics of skateboarding. No longer in his “prime”, he navigates the sport with a heightened awareness of the risks involved, mindful of the consequences of potential injuries.

“Once you start working and age up, your skating styles change too to doing things you’re definitely able to do. But, it does keep you healthy. “For me, I don’t want to leave skateboarding because if I start something, I don’t ever want to stop it. It led me to flourish in my creative side too, and I’ve noticed people who skate have a tendency to have an artistic mindset. It has helped me expand on my creativity, much like everyone else here.”

PHOTO: FREEPIK

NO SHORTCUTS

For those aspiring to delve into the world of skateboarding, all four of them believe that persistence is key.

“Once you’ve mastered the Ollie – a foundational trick – a multitude of possibilities unfold before you,” said Wadi. They also believe that one should embrace their passion for skateboarding wholeheartedly, especially during the initial stages when the learning curve may seem daunting.

“There are no shortcuts on the journey; it requires dedication and perseverance. If you feel a genuine connection to the sport, don’t hesitate to pursue it with gusto,” said Aerul. “Avoid skating alone, particularly when starting out, as the risk of injury is significant. It’s essential to mingle with other local skaters, fostering camaraderie and safety within the skateboarding community.

“Don’t hesitate to approach us, the “uncles”, for guidance and instruction. We’re eager to share our knowledge and passion for skateboarding,” added Boi.

Bam hopes for more young skateboarders to join, recognising their crucial role in sustaining and evolving the local skate scene. Without their participation, the community risks stagnation.

Despite potentially longer recovery periods from falls, the older generation’s dedication remains strong.

Together, they strive to advance skateboarding culture, ensuring its vitality for future generations. – Izah Azahari

 

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