Since 1980 in Myanmar, youths began to gain interest in skating and practice their skills, the now middle-aged fans recall. One of the first official acknowledgements of the sport was when ex-mayor of Yangon, U Ko Lay, held national aggressive inline skate tournaments for three years consecutively from 1990. Later between 2000 and 2010, the sport was more popular among the youths and some training sessions were even held by international professional skaters in order to develop the skating skills of the young people here.
However, Myanmar young skaters need the encouragement and support from the state and other organizations.
Skating in the public area around the moat during Mandalay’s winter since he was ten years old, Ko Lwin Latt became a skillful skater, who at present is taking the role of president of Myanmar Skate Association. Currently, aged 33, he is working hard to nurture the member youths and to compete in the international skating championships.
On May 5th 2013, he and some young amateur skaters in Yangon got together and founded Myanmar Skate Association. This was something of an act of retaliation due to losing their skate grounds and being in trouble wherever they wanted to skate.
“We would get in trouble as we lost our playground and couldn’t hold any games in those days. That’s why we took responsibility and established our association.”
It was formed with an objective to lead young people in a good direction and to develop the skate sports systematically.
Some youths come here because they want to get involved in a healthy activity and eventually some make goals to take part in the international skate tourn aments. But most often, they join the group just for fun, according to trainers at Myanmar Skate Association.
In spite of having only around one hundred members nationwide in the early days of the Association, there are now nearly four hundred members. Most of them are over 16 years old. While only the older skaters manage to get themselves into international competitions, the youth are just as outstanding at skateboarding, aggressive inline skating, slalom and roll ball.
From the point of view of health, six calories are burnt during one minute of skating. It makes joints tough, lungs strong and healthy and skaters experience great rushes of adrenaline while skating and avoiding obstacles and dangers in their paths.
A trainee skater has to wear a helmet, knee pack, and shoulder pack to be safe when skating. These can be hired from Myanmar Skate Association.
Presently in the evenings every week on Thursday through Sunday, three trainers hold training sessions to teach the amateurs in their training ground under Hledan flyover.
“It is difficult to compete at an international level. They must have a willing mind. They must also be able to tolerate our training. And their parents must be well-disposed,” explained Lwin Latt.
The parents do not want their children to skate lest it hurt their limbs. But later Ko Lwin Latt and trainers from the association added in safety awareness campaigns so this, along with the wearing of correct safety equipment, means that serious injuries among skaters are very rare.
The expenses incurred by the Myanmar Skate Association have so far been covered by the front-liners. There are no supporting organizations or donors. Lwin Latt said that he does not wish to hold official fund-raising events because the current association is not registered. The expenses totaling about five lakh are needed for travelling allowances, food and maintenance of equipment. Accordingly, the member skaters all pitch in to fund an event when needed.
There are national games called National Championship Challenges at least once per year for the new-blood and the outstanding skaters. Awards of high-quality equipment are given to the best contestants in six grades.
“There is no support from the government. I used to feel discouraged because I have to pay for everything myself at first. I considered resigning. But I didn’t because it is worth it when I see the members’ behaviors have changed,” Lwin Latt explained. “I want to continue my efforts when I see young people becoming smokers, drinkers and fighters.”
Myanmar Skate Association competed in an international skate tournament from 2014 to 2017 independently and won a bronze medal for skateboarding and a silver and bronze for ‘aggressive inline’ skating in 2015. That was at the Ipoh Extreme International Invitation Championship Malaysia. Additionally there were two gold medals for skateboarding, a bronze one for ‘aggressive inline’ and a silver one for slalom skating at the Roller Cress Series in Malaysia on Nov 2017.
In the ranking of worldwide skating, Myanmar reached the level 17 among 50 countries and stood behind Thailand and Malaysia.
Myanmar Skate Association has been endeavoring to compete in the Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo, Japan in 2020. It will strive to from a federation before it.
“Our association’s principle goal is to establish a federation. With that, we can surely participate and compete in the international tournaments,” said Lwin Latt.