Over the past few years, the prominence of ‘Yob Culture’ in the national media, fuelled by the behaviour of a small minority of young people has led to widespread stereotyping of all young people as troublesome tearaways, vandals and hooligans.
There is a belief that wherever there is a group of young people, there will also be under-age drinking, violence, vandalism and other such crimes.
This has had a massive detrimental impact on much needed extreme sports facilities being built in local areas, with many residents believing that a skatepark in their area would bring ‘troublemakers’ in their droves.
So began the opening lines of Just Another Sport, a short documentary that I co-directed and edited back in August 2005. Produced thanks to funding from Douglas Valley Community, Manchester Airport, North West Arts and the Learning & Skills Fund, the film set out to explore the perceptions of young people in local communities, how those perceptions posed challenges in developing skatepark facilities, and whether or not those perceptions changed once young people took to their nearest halfpipe.
Mostly though, it was just a great excuse to hit the road and skate for a couple of days. Together with six ‘boarders, ‘bladers, and BMX riders, and staff from the local authority’s Youth Development team, myself and co-director Matty Ashton took in six skateparks across the North West Coast (including Dan’s Den in Colwyn Bay, Liverpool’s famous Rampworx, and parks in Southport, Irlam, Rhyl, and Barton).
Matty captured most of the exciting action sequences that are a highlight of the documentary, whilst I put my journalism skills to work in interviewing local residents, professional skaters, and young people alike.
The skate sequences and interviews were then edited together with a soundtrack provided by my friends in The Randoms (more of whom later), The Ultras, and a few other bands who -to be honest- I forget the name of at time of writing, before making its debut screening at the Arts Factor event in Leigh, Lancashire, on October 1st, 2005.
Over a decade later, I’m still very proud of Just Another Sport, and not just because it was the only film project I worked on that had a proper funded budget and allowed me to play with some fancy, professional equipment. The film had originally been inspired by the opposition to a skatepark being developed in Ashton, a small town close to my home in Wigan, and ultiamtely played a part in countering those oppositions and getting the go-ahead for a facility which is still being well used today.
I’m still working on getting a suitably good quality version of the film to post on Youtube. I’ll add it to this page as soon as it’s done.
I also wrote a post about the film for Blog Preston back in 2009, inspired by the struggle to develop a skatepark there. You can read that here: