July 29, 2020
Amber Clyde, founder of Girls Skate NZ chats to Empire Skate how she got into skateboarding; the growing female skate scene; and her Auckland skateboarding classes/crew for girls and women.
Tell us about Girls Skate NZ. What was the inspiration behind setting it up?
Girls Skate NZ is a girls skateboarding school/crew. We run classes throughout Auckland to young ladies of all ages, with an aim to provide a warm, safe, and friendly environment for girls to learn how to skate or to further their skills.
Our biggest goal is to inspire confidence and get as many girls involved in skateboarding as we can.
We have held three female-only skate comps and plenty of events as well.
As a young girl growing up with a passion for skateboarding I personally really struggled, I lacked the confidence to skate in front of people and to try new tricks. And found myself sitting in the corner of the park most of the time to shy and scared to get involved. Also unfortunately I experienced bullying from other young boys at the park, which scared me away entirely.
Ten years later, I picked my board back up and refound the love and passion again. A few months after I started skateboarding again, I decided I would try and get a few girls together on a Sunday morning so other young skater girls could make some friends & potentially feel empowered to try more tricks in a warm environment.
I held a free class on a Sunday morning that about three girls attended at the time and absolutely loved!
I was uncertain if I should continue the classes as I had other priorities, and I was already receiving backlash for what I was doing. But, the three girls that were attending at the time looked forward to the session so much that I decided to continue through everything.
Fast forward, and the same Sunday class now has an average of 30 girls attend! And we have three extra classes running through the week, plus we are now working in schools too!
The best part about all of it is watching the relationships form between the girls. There are girls from compete opposite sides of Auckland who have met at the classes and are now best friends and skate together every day. In my opinion that’s been the most rewarding part of all of this.
When did you start Girls Skate NZ?
I started Girls Skate NZ two years ago this month!
Where do the classes run? and when?
We currently have 4 classes a week, Tuesday’s from 3.30-5.30pm at Waterview Skatepark, Friday’s 3.30-5.30 pm at Valonia Skatepark, Saturdays 10 am-12 pm at Birkenhead Skatepark. And our free class on a Sunday is from 10 am-12 pm and we rotate between Valonia and Birkenhead each week.
What ages are the classes for?
All ages!! Youngest we have had attend is two years old, and the eldest we have taught was 50!
The average age is 10 to 14 years old, but we also hold an over 18s class on a Saturday afternoon which is growing in participants each week.
When did you start skateboarding? How did you get into it?
I started skateboarding when I was about 10 years old. I remember my uncle had a PlayStation portable which was the coolest thing at the time haha. And he let me borrow it, it had Lords Of Dogtown on it. I remember watching it one night and thinking how cool it looked when they were skating the pools. I was hooked immediately after that. My dad also used skateboards to move engines around in the garage (he was big into classic cars). So after watching Lords Of Dogtown I remember trying to learn and push around in my garage. After a few months, I became more confident on my board, and I started going down to Birkenhead skatepark after school and trying to skate the ramps. I skated for about two years before I found everything a bit too overwhelming and intimidating for me.
10 years later I picked up my board again, and I am loving it more than ever before!
I skate EVERY day and even entered Mangawhai this year.
What advice would you give to girls interested in getting into skateboarding?
My advice would be to just do it! I spent 10 years wishing I never stopped. Being a young female in a predominantly male environment can be quite daunting, but I guarantee that everybody at the park will be super supportive and love watching you progress.
I promise you, it will be the best decision you will ever make in your life!
Skateboarding is definitely one of a kind, I have made lifetime friends and memories. And I somehow love it more and more every single time I skate.
Who inspires you? What female skaters are you impressed by?
Nora (Nora Vasconcellos) and Lizzie (Lizzie Armanto) are my favourites!!!
Nora has a part with Thrasher and it is THE BEST! she is so gnarly! It’s a rough cut, and she slams so hard but gets straight back up again. Some of the sickest backside airs & smith grinds I’ve seen.
As for Lizzie, she is INCREDIBLE! She skates vert and pools a lot which is my favourite type of skateboarding. She is super smiley, sweet, and humble and just the coolest to watch. She also has a part with Thrasher called Fire which is so sick, does handplants, and doubles with Jason Jesse who is also one of my favourites!
Has the skateboarding scene in New Zealand changed since when you started getting into skateboarding? Are they more girls on boards?
It has changed SO MUCH! As a little girl, I never ever recall seeing other female skateboarders. I had heard of some, but never ever saw one.
As for now, I don’t think I can go to a park without seeing a girl skating there. It’s amazing and opens up so many opportunities for girls and skateboarding in New Zealand.
The other day (not at a class) I went down to the park and there were 8 girls skating, and 2 dudes!
Skateboarding competitions generally only have one female division, but I am slowly noticing more heats for girls open up too, which is amazing.
With skateboarding being included in the next Olympics, with both male and female professional skateboarders competing, do you think that will boost the popularity of skateboarding?
Definitely! With skateboarding now in the Olympics, councils are putting more funding into skateboarding (new parks, redoing old parks, and supplying funding for classes)
Skateboarding is also now something you can do at school! Recently I have been teaching at Te Atatu intermediate in West Auckland, and the kids' PE session is literally an hour skating with me!
I have also noticed media outlets featuring skateboarding more in their programs as well!
Interested in joining a Girls Skate class?
Contact Amber Clyde
Check out a video clip of Girls Skate NZ in Valonia Park, Auckland, New Zealand
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