Workshop on longboarding in Navi Mumbai
Antima Bisht, a 22-year-old extreme sports athlete tells us about her foray into longboarding ahead of a workshop she will be conducting for enthusiasts this weekend
I think it dawns on everyone once in their lifetime that college is a waste of time," jokes 22-year-old Mumbai-based athlete Antima Bisht recalling how she dropped out of a Bachelors degree in Mass Media to become a pro-longboarder. We are speaking to her ahead of a workshop she will be conducting for enthusiasts this Sunday. Whether it was chancing upon India's first and only crew for the sport or landing a job as a representative for skateboarding with a leading sports brand, for Bisht, happenstance has played a huge role.
"In 2013, I was meeting a friend and through him, I discovered Longboard Crew India. It looked very exciting, so I thought of trying it out. I kept practising and gradually became a part of the group. Then I started my own classes to teach the sport to kids around Navi Mumbai, where I live, and also travelled to Odisha and Manipur to teach," she shares. The crew practises every Sunday on a long stretch of road in Sector 15, Belapur.
Becoming a part of the organisation that is hosting the event, for whom Bisht is a skateboarding representative and a sports leader, too, was a matter of fate. "When someone wants to join the company they have to undergo physical tests like running, sprinting, and off-cycling. Last year, I was working at a fitness park and overseeing obstacle courses. This was in March, 2018, and some recruiters were conducting tests for new applicants there. So, I went up to them and asked what was going on and eventually landed a job. It was all destiny," she reminisces.
Bisht shows the basics of longboarding to a novice during Sunday practice
But getting into longboarding wasn't a cakewalk. Like many Indian women who are met with inane impediments from their families and the society at large, Bisht, too, had to fight for her dream. "My parents were shocked when they learnt that I had dropped out of college and even more so because I had done that to pursue an extreme sport. Often I returned home with cuts and bruises and my parents weren't happy at all," she tells us. But since then, things have changed and her family has come to accept and appreciate her work with all their heart. "I think if you can prove to Indian parents that you can make money doing what you love then they take a step back," she quips.
On Sunday, the workshop will begin with a meet-and-greet and a warm-up session. Then, Bisht and crew will educate participants about longboarding and what it entails. This will be followed by an introductory session wherein participants will be taught how to stand on the board, the correct postures and other ways to manoeuvre it and finally, they will be taken for a ride. The crew encourages girls to participate as a massive gender gap continues to muddle the all-India representation for the sport with only two women out of 34 longboarders in Mumbai.
But the workshop, she tells us, is just a small step towards a larger dream. "We are hoping to work in collaboration with the local government to build small skate parks and other facilities to help foster and promote the sport. As of now, there isn't a single one in the entire city. We are also building our community to begin work on a skate park in Nerul, which was in the works, but has stopped because of internal issues. We are aware that one voice cannot go a long way and it is high time that the country stopped looking at sports as a mere hobby," she asserts and rightly so, because it's time everyone got on board.
On December 6, 9 am to 11 am
At Trishul Goldmine, Sector 15, Belapur, Navi Mumbai.
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