It was early Friday morning, the weather was wintry dry in Riyadh, I was enjoying my morning coffee. My brother Mark Jackal, who came all the way from Yanbu, asked me to accompany him to Olaya to skate with the Olaya Crew.
So to make the most out of his vacation here in Riyadh and also to check out the skateboarding scene in Riyadh, I smirked at him in a Jackalish manner and said “Let’s go and meet the guys”. My brother excitedly took his board with him along with his backpack. As we loaded his gear into the car, I asked him “how did you know the guys?”. he replied sheepishly; “I was searching for other skaters here in the kingdom, I found them and they invited me to come and skate with them”.
To cut the story short, we met the group. Custer welcomed us by doing a kick-flip. At first it was only him at the spot but soon one by one they came. As I recall one of them went there by skateboarding 10km alone! Good work.
The crew members were very polite, prim and proper. Things you would expect with people with culture. We where surprised because the group also has some members from other nationalities. I was actually hoping to see someone do tricks wearing a thoub and sandals.
The guys went all out and pulled some neat tricks! The level of skills of the members are on different levels but they respect each other with extreme humility. They came from different background and from different walks of life. Some of them are working in the health care industry, some in the automotive maintenance industry others were students. But they have one thing in common, skate or die.
“Skateboarding is a way of life a culture” according to Custer as he proceeded to do a tail slide. There is not much place to skate in this City, so they have to move from place to place to skate. There is one skate park but it is too far from the city center. “Palipat-lipat kami depende sa sitwasyun” (We have to move from place to place depending on the situation) Rasta chuckled.
As there are not much place to skate in almost all the cities in the world. The Skaters greatest rivals where the “manong guards” (security guards). As they have to move to another place when they get reprimanded. Taking much of their time to look for another place during their day off.
Skateboard parts where also hard to acquire in Riyadh because there is little to no skate shops here. The guys have to order parts online, it makes the parts cost more and not easy to acquire. Decks, Tracks, Bearings and Wheels are all subject to wear and tear overtime. So they have to DIY things from time to time.
The guys are good at their skateboarding craft even though they have limited time to practice it. “Pupunta pa ko workshop after nito” Ferdie exclaimed. Maybe he has to work and fix a lot of cars after skating, I thought. “Ang pagkatao mo ay mas higit na mahalaga kaysa kung ano ginagawa mo” (what you are is more important than what you do) Mark Jakal whispered to me smilingly.
The group’s membership have grown over the past few years, some have already went to their home countries while some are still here. The friendship and relationships have already been deeply rooted and they treat each other like brothers.
Crew members may come and go, but what really is more important is camaraderie, brotherhood and friendship built.
Even if they came from different backgrounds and standing in life they have something that most people don’t have .
Below is the video of Custer.
Olaya Crew, truly are Jackals among us.