“For poor young people, skating is connected to our bloodline and how far it goes,” reflects Rayne Moses shortly after Andy Walshe’s opening talk at the Amaphiko Academy, a talk in which Walshe highlighted skateboarding as a sport where failure is “a part of the process of success.” He also linked this to human potential and the creativity required to experience breakthroughs. Rayne instantly sees the connection to his non-profit skate tutoring organisation Nebula Youth, where his teams idea was to use skating as an “overall theme and a metaphor for life” and then “parallel that using our own personal histories and where we come from.”
Nebula Youth operates mainly in Gugulethu, a township in the Cape Flats. There is also a clothing label in the development stages that, Rayne hopes, will be able to fund some aspects of the organisation. Nebular’s programme includes tutoring twice a week and workshops on life skills and personal development.
I didn’t have a real plan when I started Nebular,” he explains. “I just wanted to teach skateboarding and have the feel of working with kids. I believe that as an entrepreneur, you have to be comfortable with uncertainty.
Rayne uses life maps to get his students to relate skating with their life choices. He asks them to reflect on the events that made them feel “high” and “low” and the role that those events play in how they continue to perceive themselves.
“It’s the same in skating, like when you are in a bowl or when you are popping up and down… Everything is a manifestation of your thoughts and ideas. It’s like landing a trick. It starts out as an idea and then wanting to land it physically.”
Contemplating his own challenges in trying to push individuals to maximise their potential, Rayne relates the story of a kid he was helping to nail an Ollie, the foundational skating trick…
“The kid wasn’t getting it right and I just kept pushing him until it looked like tears were coming out of his eyes but I wasn’t sure, because when I asked him if he was crying, he kept saying there was something in his eyes. It was unlikely that there was something in his eye. There are moments like that when you have to reflect. I still have a lot to learn when it comes to tutoring and coaching because it’s not what I studied to do. I studied business.”
Rayne and the people at Nebular represents a growing movement of skaters in townships and other marginalized communities where the sport is seen as a wellness philosophy, not just a hobby. As the sport is also about claiming space and visibility it becomes entwined with many practitioners’ sense of worth.
As Walshe said, “there isn’t much separating top-tier athletes from each other” when it comes to the big time, except maybe thinking creatively to get out of a sticky situation.
This is something Rayne can relate to. “No skater is better than another (when it comes to competition). Skills don’t matter much. It’s how much you’re prepared. It’s about landing your biggest stuff when the time comes.”
Photography by Sydelle Willow Smith