Brasil is blessed!

Allan Schmidt guest writing for Europeskate

Allan Schmidt is Europeskate’s first guest writer and I’m proud that he is bringing in some good background feelings and information about the Brazilian skateboard scene. Allan himself is a skateboard photographer who was one of the first featured photographers on this site. Be sure to check out his Flickr site, he’s quite good! >>

Have you ever heard of a guy called Bob Burnquist?? Me neither! That could be the reality if Brasil didn’t have something special…

From upcomers to real legends, Brasil (Portuguese way of spelling) has always been a large nest when it´s comes to skateboard talents. But why not India? Or Russia? Or China? Or yet any other large and not considered “first world” country at all??? There could be many reasons for that, but the fact is Brasil starts with an advantage.

Brasil is blessed! The fifth largest country in the world with 8.547.403km² has predominantly tropical weather, vegetation going from rain forest to small desert regions, no natural threats such as hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanoes, violent earthquakes, tornadoes, and a very fertile earth where everything grows. About the country´s beauty, I don´t think we need to talk about it since it is famous worldwide. Although something very interesting happens with the population.

Brazilian people are a product of many years of immigration, starting with the Portuguese introducing Africans slaves here to work and also having some of their own coming to live here. Then came the Dutch and the Spanish to explore the land a bit more and finally, during and after 1st and 2nd world war, we received massive amounts of immigrants consisting of Italians, Germans, Greeks, Japanese, Chinese, French, English, Austrians, more Spanish and Portuguese and a couple more nations. Ahh, almost forgot! Our native Indians are a part of this miscellaneous group of course. So, what makes this land so blessed?? Diversity I would say!!!

In my opinion, this big blend of cultural, historical and geographical facts are responsible for Brazilian people being so laid back, open minded, flexible, creative and happy! Lots of people have kept their traditional familiar habits and are still passing them on from generation to generation. I for example have German, Italian, Lebanese, Yugoslavian and native Brazilian blood, at home we still follow a couple of German traditions and apart from that, my first name is English, middle name Italian, last name German but I was born in Brasil.

After the slave ship, the closest we got to having a repressive system was a couple of years of dictatorship, which ended in the 60´s. This has given us a lot of freedom, opening our eyes and minds and helping us to be creative. Our system doesn’t restrain us, helping to see opportunities where the others mostly don’t!

If we talk about skateboarding, these characteristics are so important to succeed because skateboarding is all about creativity, flexibility, having no rules! It’s to think outside the box, something we were born and conditioned to do. According to research realized by Datafolha in September 2006, around 3,200,000 households have at least one inhabitant who owns a skateboard. Rumors have it that skateboarding is the second most practiced activity (just to not use the term sport) in whole country just coming after soccer (of course).

Skateboarding first arrived here in 1965 and since the 90´s it has grown a lot. In an age where internet and television are so accessible, kids from basically anywhere can see and learn what’s going on in the whole world, but still a question always comes to mind.Why isn’t the Brazilian skateboard industry stronger?

For the people here, Brazilian goodies such as decks, wheels, trucks were always a synonym of inferior quality. I for example, apart from the hardware, don’t have a single part in my skateboard which is produced here, just because I find the North American products to be more durable, lighter and better designed giving me the performance I expect. It seems like the market has been heating up since 2004 with new brands showing up, new magazines, videos, products and so on, but we still don’t see so many people being well paid by Brazilian companies. Neither do we see enough space for media professionals, forcing the folks out there to fight for a living and sometimes almost selling their soul.

Now there is an international big company invasion going on with names like Element, Circa, Volcom, Nike shoes, DC shoes, Emerica and so on putting teams together, opening stores in fancy neighborhoods, promoting events and injecting money and high-quality stuff into our market. It makes me wonder why aren’t the Brazilian companies up there yet. What do we still need to get there? Since some companies here were established 10 years ago or longer, why didn’t they reach that level of quality? In my opinion, there’s a big lack on athletes support! The guys running some of these companies don’t see that the athlete is this sport’s soul. They just want to get more without giving.

As a skateboard photographer, I already had people asking me to give away my photos, so they could use it in some kind of publicity, others refusing to pay a minimum price to have high quality material to use. The athlete is the company’s image and should be their most valuable asset. I have a friend who is at his soul a skater, maybe the most humble guy I’ve ever got to know and he does the gnarliest stuff out there. Someone truly gifted! He told me many times that he couldn’t go out shooting because he had no deck to ride or no money to take the bus. That’s so (sorry the term) fuckin sad, so much talent and no support, however, as soon as he gets a new deck he just wants to shred!! International companies already saw our value, the potential of our market and they started to come more and more.

I think we´ve come to a crucial point where either the national companies will step up or they will soon die.

Part 2 of the Brazil report from Allan Schmidt. Read it right now…

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