Skateboarding has opened many doors in my life which I most likely would have never even seen or heard about if I had decided to move in a different direction with my life – this was the best choice I ever made in my life. Meeting new people, hearing their ideas and learning about their life is a big part of what makes skateboarding never get boring – at least not for me. That’s a major part of why I still carry on after – believe it or not – over 30 years of hanging around with skateboards.
I got the chance to interview Ã–nder Ã–zkoÃ§ from the Turkish website ‘skateboardingturkey.com‘ (sorry Ã–nder for me taking so long to put this on the site!) and he tells a story that really made me sit back and realize again how easy and good we have it in the western world with all of the media, magazines, skateboard companies, shops and spots where ever we look. A big thanks to Ã–nder for this deeper look into Turkish skateboarding – make sure you visit the site!
How did the idea with the “skateboardingturkey.com” site start and who is working at the site?
Actually, this site was on every skater’s mind, thinking that something like this had to be done but could not be fulfilled due to technical and economic reasons. Of course in Turkey the picture changes instantly. Youâ€™re at the beginning of everything and the audience changes as well. Right now Iâ€™m the only active operator. However with the best names of Turkey such as AnÄ±l and Alp, our work keeps getting more professional and beautiful. Besides lots of friends never hesitate to help in our time of need.
The scene in Turkey is relatively unknown for skaters outside of your country. How can one describe the skateboard scene in Turkey? How has it grown in the last 10 years?
Skateboarding has been in Turkey since the 1980â€™s. Since then so many people set their heart on this and many things were achieved but the actual skateboarding audience has advanced so little I can say. One of the reasons for this is being unknown by the rest of the world, also, deficient developments and its distance to culture are mainly reasons for little advancing. Investor’s poor budgets for skate organizations and expecting a society to take action without explaining what skateboarding is at first fails this field to move forward.
But Turkey has a chance to make a name for itself internationally with its young, excited, freedom passionate population and amazing skating spots with the right leading. While defining skateboarding in Turkey, I believe that a lot is left unclear. State and private sectors are highly irrelevant with the subject and this situation makes skateboarding remain in the background. Exultingly I can say, things are going for the better everyday. With ADSL connections getting more widespread, interest in skateboarding and other extreme sports has risen much more. Now people can get to learn everything directly from the source, not just from movies or so. This is where we step in and serve people hoping to make up 10 lost years without doing a single thing. We hold the responsibility to be the one and only true source open to anyone who wants to be interested in skateboarding. We got the results in a really short notice of time. At the first month of our establishment, we celebrated GO SKATEBOARDING DAY as SBT (short definition for skateboardingturkey.com) and we are determined to make it a tradition. We tried to reach the public in general by TV interviews, programs and site advertisements. We are preparing for multiple local and national contests and organizations. In short, we are trying to create a future for skateboarding. We hope to turn the loss into an advantage.
Do you feel like skateboarding as a “sport” is being more accepted in society, getting more media attention?
Let me say it clearly: an aware society or media that truly knows and feels the spirit of skateboarding can make it interesting for itself. Take a look at the birth of skateboarding, we have taken it this far. As sports, we can think like this: societies away from social life and living in a specific capacity. When we talk about Turkish society, we talk about a transition, from a world ruling empire for centuries, an Islamic country, to the most modern republic. There are still a general cultural structure and beliefs stable in this transition. This makes accepting the difference harder. The situation is the same everywhere in sports, music, social life and anything new. For example, Turkish society is so fond of football that any other kind of sport is like something else. Two football players are totally normal for us but two skateboarders are odd to see on streets.
My personal view is as I know Turkish society I can say whenever skateboarding is perceived as a sport throughout the country and parents give their children a chance to get to know skateboarding without any prejudice, only then skateboarding will have a chance to be approved. Media is the biggest element easing this process. As with football, we are also fanatics of the media tools that convey this sport to us. We live through the media and believe me, just a single program about skateboarding or an ad or a video that has a skater in it leads many people to skating. This is very important.
Which Turkish skaters would you like to mention that have a lot of potential for the future?
As SBT, one of our goals is to create true potentials like AnÄ±l Aba, Alp Aba, Can Uzer, Cenk Kuli, Sercan UyanÄ±k, Mert KafalÄ±, Burak Kahraman, Tuncay KoÃ§al. These are just a few of the best names and for new names I might say Umut Ã–zer, BuÄŸra Tuncel, Berksoy DurmuÅŸoÄŸlu, Mertkan DÄ±kÄ±l, Uras Cezer, Ekrem YalÃ§Ä±n and many more. In the following years it would be great to meet with international names. I hope all friends will pull their weight and we will be able to introduce them both to their own country and to the whole world.
How often are contests held in Turkey? Do you have a main organisation running them or is it all independent?
Contests were quite few – there were almost none up to recent years. Since there isnâ€™t any organization dealing with this subject, contests are held unorganized. However we have cities that are capable of hosting both local and national plus international activities and Turkey has one of the best climates for skateboarding. We are determined to make the best use of it. We gained much attention with our SBT GAME OF SKATE in Ä°zmir which we held in many cities throughout the year. This is not a one day event, it is like a league which we broadcast these contests on our site. People both get to know the game of skate and it doesn’t matter where they can watch a joyful skateboarding contest. It starts in Ä°zmir and takes 2.5 hours, in the future it will also be held in Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa and EskiÅŸehir. We are also planning a daily contest in multiple cities and big festivals at the end of the year. I hope we can send this ideas as news to you Jonathan. (Ed.: You bet you can! Looking foward to these contests!)
What other skateboard sites do skaters in Turkey like to go to keep up with the latest skateboarding news?
As I said many times before like 10 months earlier, there were no actual sites or organizations about skateboarding. Reasons are technical and economic. In addition to that there is this sense of professionalism on what we do. No one has ever done this in Turkey so we are the only professional skateboarding site and institution at the same time. Until now lots of amateur sites and forums were established, even after skateboardingturkey.com, but itâ€™s a hard way to walk in Turkey when it comes to skateboarding. Without taking it serious and having enough information about it, itâ€™s hard to keep it going in Turkey.
What do you think about the growth of skateboarding with major companies getting more and more involved – is this a good development for skateboarding?
Whatever thatâ€™s around and what we consider to be popular is related with the investments on that thing. When a company sets a specific sector as a target, the bigger the company, the more development that sector will get. Absolutely I can say that companies interested in skateboarding are a contribution no matter where you are in the world. For example in Turkey, there are only a few companies with low budgets that are interested and related with skateboarding and when the situation is like that, even for small organizations getting support from these companies is considerably difficult. There are two ways to overcome it; first international brands recognize the potential of Turkey, involve and support, second, the support of big companies feeling the popularity and the spirit of skateboarding.
If you wanted to show us 5 spots/parks to skate in Turkey, where would you take us?
Ä°stanbul â€“ Barbaros MeydanÄ±
Ä°stanbul – EminÃ¶nÃ¼
Ä°zmir â€“ BostanlÄ± Demokrasi MeydanÄ±
Ä°zmir â€“ GÃ¼ndoÄŸdu MeydanÄ±
Ä°zmir â€“ Konak
You can see all the parks and spots at “Park&Spot” section. These pages will become international asap.
What are the goals / ideas / plans for skateboardingturkey.com in the future?
Our first goal is skateboarding and to create an awareness in our country. What we do and what we will do is based on this principle. We have many services right now and itâ€™s voluntarily carried out. Most important of them is our Live Support and we are preparing for a phone dial support and videos for skateboarding moves. The biggest of them all and maybe the first around the world is our free trainings. It is open for anyone who wants to learn skateboarding in Ä°zmir, every weekend at specific hours. We see new faces every week and they get to have their very first experience on skateboarding. Our plans are on spreading these trainings to 10 more cities and it is about to start. We also have interviews with the best skaters in Turkey. This helps skateboarders to learn new things from the source and see some role models for themselves. We have some bigger projects as well; we aim for a real Turkish Skateboarding Magazine. Actually everything is ready for such a magazine but economic difficulties and not having a specific sector in the country are handicaps. Another thing is award online contests. We care about this issue because this is the biggest material for us to turn skateboarding into a sector and create an aim. Finally, for accomplishing these aims, we need to found economy and legal ground. Ad revenues, getting distributorships of skateboarding brands, increasing shops around the country are other things we want to achieve. In short, we have a lot to do. To make this happen we need both national and international support. Skateboarding should get what it deserves. Thank you for reading this long and boring article. Especially I thank Jonathan for keeping this site alive and everything he does for skateboarding.
I would like to make an interview with skateboarding.com as soon as possible. Thank you for everything, I’ll try to give you news as much as I can and we have a organization coming up. It’s SBT GAME OF SKATE in IZMIR ’09
You can add this contest information on your web site as a news;
Contest name: SBT GAME OF SKATE in IZMIR ’09 | TURKEY
Date: 03.29.2009- 05.07.2009
Itâ€™s local and free.
Sponsors: Darkstar, Enjoi, Jart, Speeddemons, Trugrit, X4tune Extreme Shop
Contest Page: http://www.skateboardingturkey.com/contests.html