Argentine Valeria Kechichian is the co-founder and executive director of Longboard Girls Crew, a sporting community supporting women’s empowerment and passion for action sports.
“From a very early age we are taught that it’s important to be beautiful and behave ourselves in an appropriate manner. Boys are encouraged to play sports, to get dirty and try new things,” Kechichian explained in a recent interview with BBC. “They make us believe that we can’t do it, that it’s really dangerous and it’s not for us.”
This is a particularly pertinent reality in the world of action sports. Remember reading that Silvana Lima, Brazil’s best pro surfer, couldn’t get sponsors because she didn’t “look like a model”? Yeah. Shit sucks.
Kechichian – together with venezolana Jacky Madenfrost – started LGC in Madrid back in 2010 with the primary purpose of inspiring women to start skating. She was working as a secretary at a law firm at the time – perhaps the polar opposite of the action and adventure that characterize her everyday now – and surprisingly, she didn’t even start skating until she was 28 years old.
“I started to skate when I was 28 years old, when I was leaving alcohol and other bad habits behind,” she said. “I needed to replace my negative leisure activities with something positive and I started to skate.”
As you might imagine, the road from stable job to skateboarding was filled with stumbling blocks. But even when Kechichian was fearful of whether or not she’d be able to make it to the end of the month, she knew that her life “never had as much meaning as it does now.”
In the years that have followed LGC’s creation in 2010, the group has grown to have a presence in over 80 countries, thanks to a network of official crews and ambassadors. That stunning success is no doubt due to Kechichian’s unrelenting passion for providing exposure for female riders and serving as a model for other women.
“A 5-year-old girl who continually sees female riders completing crazy jumps with their snowboards, surfing, skating down banisters or going 90 km down mountains with longboards will assimilate [this] as normal, and will grow up thinking that she has no limits and that she can also do it if she wants.”