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KABUL, Feb 23 (New York Times): Oliver Percovich, A 34-year-old from Melbourne, Australia, plans to open Skateistan, the first skateboarding school in the country, this spring. He sees sport as a way to woo students into after-school activities like English and computer classes.
â€œTeenagers are trying to dissociate from old mentalities. ... If they werenâ€™t interested, I wouldâ€™ve left a long time ago,â€ Percovich said.
Now, when he pulls his motorcycle into a residential courtyard here, a dozen youngsters pounce before it comes to a stop, yanking six chipped skateboards with fading paint off the back. The children, most participating in a sport for the first time in their lives, do not want to waste any time.
Percovich has raised the money needed to build an 8,600-square-foot bubble to house the nonprofit Skateistan complex, and the Kabul Parks Authority has donated land.
Among those who look forward to his visits is Maro, an elfin 9-year-old girl who was terrified of skateboarding at first.
â€œIt gives me courage,â€ she said.
Perhaps no one is more excited for the skateboard park than Mirwais, a 16-year-old boy who can do an ollie, an aerial trick that is the foundation for more advanced moves.
â€œI want to improve as much as I can, and continue to support my family with skating,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s my future.â€