TIFRKHIN SKATE is a community of female skaters in Morocco created by skater, Houda ait Lahcen (@nina.skater). What's behind a name? Tifrkhin means girls in the Amazigh language, known as Tamazight which is one of the official languages of the country. The community was created to empower, inspire and motivate Moroccan girls through skateboarding, it is open to all ages and skill levels. The community organizes skate events, workshops, and skate lessons in South Morocco (cities of Essouira, Agadir and Taroudant). Being a marginalized group in a developing yet emerging country such as Morocco, women face daily challenges in social, economic, and political participation. I've gotten connected with Houda through an Instagram post on @doloresmagazine's account at the beginning of 2023. We've been in touch quite a lot and she has become a good friend. On this page, I wanted to highlight who she is as a skater and what she's doing for the local female skate community, here we will have some insight on the environment that these girls have to navigate in their country. Interviewed in February 2023, please read on for the answers in her own words...
O: HI HOUDA, TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW DID YOU START SKATING?
H: My name is Houda, I'm 19 years old and I was born in a small city in South Morocco called Taroudant. I've been skating for almost 2 years now. I started skating because a friend of mine had a skateboard as her birthday gift, she showed it to me one day and we started skating together for the first time. I felt that’s what I wanted to do, every day I was hanging out with her to skate in front of her house. The things that make me happy are when I learn a new trick and seeing new people learning how to skateboard, also that in skateboarding you always meet good people who push you.
O: WHY DID YOU START THE TIFRKHIN SKATE COMMUNITY?
H: I started the community in my country to push Moroccan girls by putting more light onto their talents, empower them to skate also bring all the skater girls together to build a strong female skate community. A challenge that I face as a female skater is that people always say to me in the streets and to my family that I look like a boy and that I’m not like the other girls just because my clothes are different and that I skate, the community sessions is a safe space for me and the girls.
O: GREAT INITIATIVE, WHAT IS YOUR MISSION FOR THE COMMUNITY?
H: The mission I have for the community is to change the way that families and people think about skateboarding. Also motivating girls to skate, because in Morocco female skaters do not get much support as they don’t get sponsored and they don’t even host competitions for girls. Also, I find that most of the girls here who skate don’t know each other and I want to change that by supporting them through workshops for kids, girls-focused skate events, and meetups. So that we can all grow together and teach more girls skateboarding. Skateboarding materials are expensive here, most of the girls are still in school and their families can’t afford to buy a skateboard for them... I would like to help to provide the community with skateboards.
O: THAT'S A HUGE UNDERTAKING + WONDERFUL. CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT WHAT ARE THE EXPECTED ROLES OF GIRLS AND WOMEN IN MOROCCO?
H: The expected roles of girls and women in society are domesticated roles mostly. The challenges I face in my environment as a woman is that most people have this mindset that women should prioritise having a home and husband, children, or work, if she doesn’t have any of that she has to stay in her family home to help with housework.
O: HOW HAS SKATEBOARDING CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR MENTAL HEALTH?
H: Skateboarding contributes a lot to my mental health because when I have a problem or when I get criticism from society, the only thing that makes me feel better and motivates me to keep going is skateboarding. When I go skate, I forget about any negativity in my life.
O: HOW DOES SKATEBOARDING MAKE THE GIRLS IN YOUR COMMUNITY FEEL?
H: Skateboarding motivates me to invoke change for female skaters in my country and create the @tifrkhin_skate community to make a safe space for girls and motivate them to keep moving forward. I have already started to see the change in the girls whenever they get to see each other, talking about the difficulties that they are facing, and sharing good vibes. The community continues to grow and I'm looking forward to organizing more female-focused events, workshops, and free skate lessons around Morocco. Thank you, skateboarding.
O: WHAT ARE THE REASONS THAT SKATING IS SO GREAT FOR GIRLS IN MOROCCO?
H: The reasons that skating is so great for the girls is because it teaches them on how to be strong and to trust themselves, that they can do anything that they think is impossible and that is what life is about. It teaches them to be brave like when you take risks, it teaches them to get up again and try their best. Like in life, when we fall we get up and try again. So skateboarding is something we need to know and have in our lives because it teaches you a lot.
O: THOSE ARE GREAT REASONS AND I RESONATE WITH THEM. NOW LET'S TALK ABOUT YOUR SKATING... I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE RECOVERING FROM A RECENT INJURY, CAN YOU TELL ME HOW IT AFFECTED YOU BOTH MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY?
H: I did a kickflip down a gap and when I landed I twisted the ankle of my back foot. It affected me a lot physically and mentally where I find myself not feeling as brave anymore. I can’t skate like before the injury... like I'd feel afraid from speed and other normal things. I’m recovering from it and I started to skate curbs + transition. I’m about 85% healed now but still have pain in my ankle. I’m so grateful that I'm back on the board though, trying to be patient to recover back to 100%.
O: YES, PATIENCE IS KEY BUT CAN BE DIFFICULT AT TIMES. WHAT'S YOUR DREAM TRICK?
H: My dream trick is 50-50 grind and flip out on a big rail.
O: I'D LIKE TO SEE THAT CLIP ONE DAY. WHAT'S YOUR CURRENT SETUP?
H: My current set up is 8.25 SK8Mafia deck with Thunder Trucks and 53mm Taste wheels, whatever size wheels I can get my hands honestly ranging from 52mm - 54mm.
O: DO YOU HAVE ANY SKATERS THAT INSPIRE YOUR SKATING?
H: Yes, there's skaters that inspire my skating in and outside my country. The first one is a young woman from Brazil, Rayssa Leal, she's only 15 but she's like the best. Another one is Nassim Lachhab, a great skater sponsored by Etnies... he's Moroccan and living in Barcelona at the moment. There are other skaters but these two are the most interesting to me.
O: DO YOU HAVE A FAVE SKATE PART? YOU CAN NAME YOUR TOP 3 IF YOU WANT.
O: WHAT ARE YOUR ASPIRATIONS IN LIFE? IN OTHER WORDS, YOUR GOALS IN LIFE.
H: I want to become the first Moroccan female pro skater, my other goals in life is to live a happy life and share the benefits of skateboarding while growing the girls skate community in my country. Also to one day run a skate space like a hostel for skaters with a mini ramp and a small shop of my hand made crafts.
O: LOVE HEARING ALL THAT. NEXT, NAME 3 THINGS THAT YOU LOVE + 3 THINGS YOU DISLIKE.
H: I love skating, making jewelry and hanging out with my homies. I dislike racism, seeing kids interested to skate, and not having enough money to buy a skateboard.
O: LASTLY, ANYTHING YOU WANT TO SAY TO THE GLOBAL SKATE COMMUNITY?
H: I want to say keep going no matter what happens because one day we'll all reach our goals and let's take care of the next generation to make the skate community bigger + better. ❤️
O: THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR STORY, HOUDA. HOPE WE CAN SKATE TOGETHER ONE DAY!
H: Thank you dear friend Oli for your motivation and your help to bring more girls into skateboarding. It means a lot to me, hope to skate together one day.
THE TIFRKHIN SKATE COMMUNITY NEEDS HELP WITH SKATEBOARDING SUPPLIES
Tifrkhin Skate's journey is only at the beginning, where more girls are getting interested in skating but not all are able to afford their own skateboards. Houda is aiming to collect around 25 skateboard setups in 2023 along with other skate gear. The cost of skateboards in Morocco are extremely expensive in relation to the average salary in their economy. The retail prices for skateboard supplies are nearly the same as what we know of in North America but a full setup per person can cost a one a lot of money, especially for the skateboarding benefits that the Moroccan girls really need. As you have read in the interview above, female skaters get zero to little support in the country. I have done some research on the costs and what the basic salary is... Here's a breakdown of costs based on a skate shop in Morocco :
Decks ranging from 400,00 - 800,00MAD = USD$38 - 76
Venture or Independent Trucks - 600,00 - 650,00 MAD = USD57 - 62
Set of wheels - 300,00 - 400,00MAD = USD 29-38 (Not Spitfire)
Bearings (Bronson Speed Co): 320,00MAD = USD$30
Grip Tape: 100,00MAD = USD9.50
T-Tool : 100MAD = USD9.50
7.875 Tricks Life = 850,00MAD = USD$81
Plan B 7.87 complete = 1150,00MAD = USD$110
FLIP 8.0" complete = 1500,00MAD = $143
The average basic salary in Morocco is 106,853 MAD per year. As per the exchange rates in February 2022, this amounts to approximately USD 11,339.24 per year. This is less than the annual average salaries in the US ( USD 56,310) and many European countries. A Moroccan employee earns an average hourly wage of 51.37 MAD = USD$4.89. In which they could be paid less depending on the kind of work that they get.
The MNSTR Skate Initiative is helping out the community by putting out this call for help for donations of skateboard decks, skateboard parts, safety gear (helmets + pads), and skate shoes most importantly and they accept other donations as well, you can donate gently used items as well as new. We have a donation page for the shipping costs to send materials from North America and the other funds will be going straight to TIFRKHIN Skate community. If you would like to help out either through donating skate supplies or monetary donations. Please donate in the link below or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about this page. I'm doing this on behalf of my skate sis, Houda and the TIFRKHIN Skate community. Please note that none of the donated funds will be going to The MNSTR Skate Initiative, 100% of the $$$$ goes to this Moroccan skate community. Thank you for your time + attention.