Here you have the interview with one of the key figures of the French skateboard scene : Florent Balesta. Florent is a member of the Commission Skateboard and has a very important role in it , he’s the Technical Consultant and in this interview we will explain what it is all about and how the Commission is able to organize incredible events and grow up amazing skaters.
First of all : Your beginnings ,when and why did you start skating?
I remember that I had a board that i shared with my brother in the 80’s, when I was about 8 or 10. But I decided to pratice more and more very late, when I was a teenager, because I felt free with my friends, that have practiced a lot before me. There was a good atmosphere, and we shared spots, music, laughs, ….
The National Commission Skateboard (CNS) is incredibily very well organized. From the development of skaters , the judges, the contests. An example to follow for all other European countries. To know more about the CNS, tell us how everything has become reality. Who were the initiators of this project? How and when the idea was born?
In fact, the Commission Skateboard is a part of the French Federation of Roller Sports, because of the Ministry, since 1997. That’s the way the Ministry can recognize us and give us some budget. But this Federation let us decide and develop the skateboard the way we want. The French skateboarders have always taken an active part of the development for skateboarding. Thomas RAYMOND was the president of the CNS during more than 10 years.
You are the CADRE TECHNIQUE FEDERAL SKATEBOARD , basically you are the responsible for the new generations? Explain exactly what is your role.
I’m a Technical Consultant. I try to develop and promote the skateboard in France. It’s pretty cool, but it’s a lot of work.
The main part of my job consists in training the future instructors. Then I work with Cyril FORCHERON who helps me to coordinate the Contests (French championships, French Cups and the National Ranking), with the local skateboard clubs, and skateparks. I also try to develop the French Teams : the Collectif Juniors and the Collectif Filles, but in the way we make some skateboard trips, because I don’t want to create a National Skateboard Team to go to contests. They make enough contests all year long. For the Juniors, the purpose is to make some prevention : I want to tell them a lot of advices (physical, technical, career plan, management of personal image, …). I ‘ve also created a Label for the French Skateboard Schools and other tools for the clubs and instrcuctors to help them to develop and promote their activities. Cyril is also responsible of the Cellule Equipement that tries to help the municipalities to create, animate and manage skateparks.
The French scene is and has always been the top in Europe , as you’ve seen the scene in recent years (after the “crisis“ )
I think there are a lot of very good skateboarders around Europe.
But, it’s more difficult for riders who can’t practice all year long because of the weather and the lack of indoor skateparks. We also have the chance to have some media and some companies that make a good job. Many US teams like to come to France and Spain, to make skate trips. A lot of European retailers are based in France to.
The 2014 Championship has already started . How long does it take to put everything together . To organize a championship like yours?
It’s a big task to put everything together : skateparks, clubs, staff ( judges, photographer, cameraman, …).
But the most difficult thing is to communicate and to find partners for some money. Because I have to learn day by day. I don’t have enough experience in this domain.
How many people are involved for the organization ?
Guillaume GANSERT, our president who always go the the meetings with the federation and tries to make them understand our identity and culture. We try to be more independant… Cyril FORCHERON, our french contests coordinator and Equipement responsible We also have other guys that tries to develop the other specialities (Slalom, Downhill, Mountainboard). It’s not so easy to make every one work together.
What about the sponsors . It was easy to find some this year . How was in the early years ?
It’s very difficult to find sponsors. But I think they trust in the new Commission Skateboard because of our new project that try to help skateboarding in the good direction for the base of the pyramid.
How important is the collaboration with various brands and skateshops?
A lot of core shops and brands help us. That’s a lot of credibility for us.
About the riders :What differences have you noticed between the first editions and in the last few years ( tricks , participants)
The kids are very technical, committed and more and more younger. That will be intestesting for the next years.
How do you see the female scene ( is growing or was more massive a couple of years ago) ?
It’s difficult for them because they feel alone.
That’s why we try to promote the girl scene with some actions like the Collectif Filles journey and the Calamity Jam contest (event 100% girls with almost 30 girls). So, the scene exist. We have to show this, and promote it.
Aurelien GIRAUD , Joseph Garbaccio , Cyril JUBIN , Maceo MOREAU are only a couple of name of young skaters who are impressing the skateboard scene . Not to mention Adrien Bulard …. How much do you think the CNS helped for their achievements ?
These young guys are mostly known and recognised because of the skateboard championships. We have to help them in an other way, like the Collectif Juniors journey. They have to find some experience to travel with other guys and find their own place in the group with a the prupose of photos and videos.
What can you tell me about European Skateboard Association?
Thomas RAYMOND worked a lot to create the European Skateboard Association and the International Skateboard Federation. But it’s over now. This guy is no more involved in our commission. He’s also very busy in his club in Montpellier and he’s the boss of the Battle of the Year (world Hip Hop dancing event). I wish we would find some time and motivation with other countries to make some prjetcs together (contests, twinnings, …)
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start something like that in his country?
First, it’s important to develop a group around a main project. A federation is a group of local clubs and influnet riders that want to develop skateboarding in the country all together. Then, create young categories (under 18 and under 16). Try to develop the training of local instructors (the base of the pyramid) to help them to be in charge of young riders and share the passion.
The skateboarding school helps kids learn much more safe and fast tricks. France is one of the European most advanced countries in this sport. How much you think the skate schools have helped to grow the scene?
The most improtant thing is to tell parents that they don’t need to worry. The instructors know the skateboaring culture and they are good for the education of their kids. The skate schools are not a champion manufactury. The main message is to have fun and share something around skateboarding. If the riders don’t progress more with the skate school, so the skate school isn’t efficient.
thanks for the interview, if you want to add anything go ahead
YEAH !!! Skateboard unity to keep our identity and our culture before someone else take our place instead of us. Hey, riders : let’s work together…