Interview with Jerusalem Skater Girls (JSG)
Hear from Maayan and Paola and how they founded Jerusalem Skater Girls (JSG).
1) Let us start with some background information. How did you get into skateboarding? How long have you been skateboarding?
We are Maayan Levi and Paola Ruiloba. Maayan is 26 years old, originally from Jerusalem and presently living in Tel Aviv and she holds a BSc in Earth Sciences from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Paola is 25 years old who is originally from Panama but has been living in Jerusalem for the past 12 years. She is currently finishing her degree in Industrial Design at the Hadassah College in Jerusalem. We met in high-school and have been skateboarding for almost 10 years. We are also, after all these years best friends.
2) Can you tell me a little bit about Jerusalem Skater Girls (JSG), what inspired you to start the organization and why? Did you receive any pushback from the community, family, etc.?
The JSG originally started like most good things after a long session in the old skatepark in Jerusalem. I said, “Hey let’s start a group for skater girls”, and Paola asked, “how can just the two of us be a group?!” But by the end of that same evening, we began creating our own logo, several styles and many ideas for names later and the JSG as we know and love was born.
But Paola was right, two girls don’t make a group. When we started to skate, very few people in Israel even considered supporting girls in the skateboarding scene. So JSG - Jerusalem Skater Girls became a home to the girls' skateboard community in Israel. We used what we’d started to do exactly what we’d planned, as a platform to develop and empower the scene through sessions, events, competitions and constant exposure on social media.
And now there are more of us, and we are a group, from all over Israel.
Three years ago, we ran our first competition, totally self-funded by the group and with the help and support of a lot of skater and non-skater friends. Last month we held our third annual competition, funded through the generosity of Jerusalem Municipality. This is the only competition in Israel to date dedicated specifically to women’s skateboarding – by girls, for girls.
Our goal is to raise awareness of the girls' community in our scene, by giving girls and women the feeling that they can do it, that they are free, that they belong. By giving girls the confidence, they need to do what they dare and expose more girls to skateboarding.
3) The JSG logo is great, how did you come up with the design and the inspiration behind it?
We wanted something that is really easy to remember and also something that it is not controversial.
4) There is a range of social issues in each country/society encounters. As female skaters in Jerusalem, what issue(s) inspired you? Do you use skateboarding to address or tackle any of those issues?
We hold to the truth that in the skateboard culture that it doesn't matter who you are and where you came from; skateboard is the common denominator which forms the foundation of our community. Skate is about the stoke, and the session, in the park and in the street and is for everyone. We believe skateboarding and the JSG has the power to bridge all boundaries, to bring people together, to enliven the surroundings through motion and a little madness.
The skate scene is just getting bigger. We think that the closer we get to the Olympics in 2020, the more awareness will grow.
5) A question about Tokoyo 2020 Olympics, are you excited that skateboarding is going to the Olympics and why? Also are you or any of the JSG crew hoping to qualify and compete?
We are happy that the skateboarding is not considered as a crime and now the world is going to know better this awesome sport and potential as every other sport, thanks to the Olympics for us and for the rest of the female skate scene in other countries we have more opportunities for new sponsors, being a bigger community. We know that our level to compete in the Olympics is not enough but this opportunity is just an open door for us to push forward to it and have a better female skate scene.
6) What are some of the challenges you as founders and women in skateboarding face?
We are facing things like getting sponsorship and expanding the female scene.
7) I understand that JSG organizes a range of events and competitions can you tell me a little bit about them? Does the entire skate community get involved (men and women)? And non-skaters?
It was our third annual competition, in cooperation with the Jerusalem Municipality.
This is the only competition in Israel that dedicated specifically to women’s skateboarding – by girls, for girls.
Our goal is to raise awareness of the girls' community in our scene, by giving girls and women the feeling that they can do it, that they are free, that they belong. By giving girls the confidence they need to do what they dare and expose more girls to skateboarding and raise the level.
The competition took place at the Jerusalem skatepark on May 21st. The best skater girls and guys from around the country participated - around 90 skater participants, and it was open to the general public. For the first time in Israel, we used the judgment program- the Boarder! and now all the participants got their own profile.
We let the boys and older guys compete, but the main focus was on girls and women.
A DJ -flow Nevo was spinning tunes throughout, and a professional MC from Doloreskateboarding explained the goings-on to the crowd.
I attached some photos and video from the event!
8) Any new exciting projects JSG is working on?
We’re coming off a big competition, and we still need to sit down, analyze the event, and see what worked and what we should improve. Then we can move on to planning some more events and sessions, in Jerusalem and around the country. We will continue our exposure on social media, to make sure that all our girls have a platform to express themselves through skate.
In order to do all of this we are in the process of coming up with a plan for the year, and hopefully some sponsorships for activities through various collaborations that will enable us to do an all-girls’ skate tour in Israel, to gather footage for what we hope will be a professional skate film of our crew – the first all-girl film out of Israel. This is a huge challenge, scheduling girls of all ages and activities! Looking for sponsorships is tough, and sounds a little corporate, but we think that this will help us reach more people and push those limits a little more.
9) Is there anything else you want to share about your organization? About the girls and women that skate in Israel?
The little dream is a skate tour abroad, that professional film and a bigger, better competition next year. But all of that is just a means to an end – more girls, more skate! We think that by doing all of this, more girls will become involved and the level of skate will go up.
But mostly – just to keep shredding and pushing!
It's great to read about the skate scene from around the world! Especially from female skaters!