Since 2012, a group called Czech on Board with Myanmar has been helping to develop and support the skateboarding community in Burma, a prominent subculture that has emerged as the country transforms itself from a former military dictatorship.
Jiří Pasz, who was visiting Burma as a photojournalist for Amnesty International, was captivated by the idealism and energy of this developing subculture and so decided to set up the initiative to further support the community.
Having begun by simply asking his friends to donate skateboarding equipment, to date, Pasz and the initiative have sent 200 kg of equipment to Myanmar via volunteers, including boards, wheels, tracks, T-shirts and shoes.
Pasz’s motivations both stem from a desire to see this community flourish amid Burma’s rapidly changing landscape, but also due to the chord it struck with his own experience in former Czechoslovakia: “We remember how it was when skateboarding was starting during communism, how people were desperate for skateboarding equipment.”
Whilst there has been some suspicion and reticence from the more traditional communities in the area, most locals seem to be getting behind the project, seeing the benefits of the initiative. Looking ahead, Pasz wants to contribute more to the scene in Yangon, helping to build skate parks that are few and far between while listening to the needs of the skaters. Defining the initiative as a collaboration rather than an intervention, Pasz states: “We are trying to listen and cooperate. It’s a partnership. We are not trying to push anything.”