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In 2008, I was a Corporal in the USMC patrolling the streets of Basra, Iraq, where I saw firsthand the way the children of war torn countries, like Iraq, love to emulate Americans. They wanted our gear, our brands, and our food. We handed out soccer balls to these children as a gesture of goodwill and it worked! Groups of kids would follow us for miles with their new soccer balls asking for more. This goes to show that sharing sports can go a long way to help make a difference. So could skateboarding be the catalyst to change in the problem spots of the world?

Nate Wheeler (left) in Basra Iraq

Later in 2010 I had the awesome experience of sharing skateboarding in Fermanagh, Ireland. I traveled with Goskate Skateboarding school to instruct local children in the art of skateboarding. What I learned was that the sport of skateboarding has an incredible ability create goodwill with people of all countries.

teaching kids to skateboard

We all know the story of Kim Jung Un, the North Korean dictator, and Dennis Rodman, the American basketball star: the connection with basketball allowed Dennis Rodman to negotiate significant issues that had nothing to do with sports! This example shows how even the countries that are most hostile to American influences are without a doubt being influenced by American sports.

According to ABC News, young girls in Afghanistan are picking up the hobby of skateboarding and it’s making some big waves! Traditionally, Afghanistan has been extremely resistant to influences from the western world, but it seems skateboarding is a sport they just couldn’t resist! You can read about it HERE

The great thing about promoting U.S. sports instead of politics is that sports are something that can bring us all together, as opposed to politics which push us apart. When we can find common ground with something as simple as a skateboard, it can set the stage for acceptance of U.S. influence in other areas like women’s rights, and democratic process.

Skateboarding is likely the fastest growing sport among the younger generation here in the U.S. and the love of the sport is something that should be shared worldwide. Maybe instead of dropping in with Blackhawk helicopters, we should be dropping in with skateboards!