Sosina (Soisy) Challa started Ethiopian Girl Skaters, one of Ethiopia’s first female-only skateboarding groups, with quite a bit of uncertainty and fear.
She disclosed to British Vogue, “I had no idea how it would go, how people would see it, if people would consider it acceptable,” and was concerned, among other things, that girls wouldn’t feel comfortable trying new things, that their parents wouldn’t let them come, and that it would seem too dangerous.
Her first class at the Addis Skate Park drew a few girls between the ages of 10 and 25. Since then, the group has grown to nearly 60 members.
Today, the “Free skateboarding lessons for girls” fliers she circulated on Instagram and Telegram Messenger in 2021 have transformed the lives of many young Ethiopian girls who would never have imagined engaging in the male-dominated skateboarding field.
About five years ago, the young leader became interested in skating after seeing a few boys in a parking lot in Addis Ababa’s Sarbet neighborhood while she was returning from the preparatory school where she had been studying medicine.
Despite the fact that her dress ripped on her first attempt, Challa recalled returning, “just following the boys” until she figured it out. She quickly became a member of Ethiopia Skate, a small non-profit that helps skateboarders.
One of her finest moments came when she had the chance to help build Ethiopia’s first skate park in the city with her own hands. She has had the chance to construct three other parks in and around her native country, the largest of which is in Hawasa, a city south of Addis Ababa.
“I’ve learned so much from skating,” Challa said. “When you skate, you fall, and you get up and keep doing it. That’s the same with the way you live. If you fall, you get up and do it; you don’t stop until you’re doing it.”
According to her, “Skateboarding is like a drug for me. It feels really good when you do it. But once I really started, I learned more about myself.”
The Ethiopian Girl Skaters, which she co-founded with her partner Micky Asfaw, is currently bringing together girls of all ages and from all backgrounds across the country. According to Shine My Crown, the group has developed an initiative that challenges the idea that women should not participate in extreme activities like skateboarding.
Numerous members of Ethiopian Girls Skaters, many of whom are schoolgirls, are seen at skateparks practicing landing tricks, finding their balance, and gaining confidence while dressed in jeans, sweatpants, and abayas.
22-year-old Hanas, a member of the club, stated that Challa’s achievements, while unusual, are welcome because most people are opposed to women participating in sports. “But somebody had to be the first; some group had to start and we were the first one and I feel honored to be part of that,” she shared, according to WION.
Another member of the group, Iman Mahmud, shared that since she began skateboarding, she doesn’t mind what others think anymore, “It helped me defeat my fears. I just enjoy it. It makes me happy.”