If you want to meet what Derry has to offer in terms of skateboarding, look no further than the 12-year-old from Hazelbank, who scooped a national title in Cork last month just a day before celebrating his twelfth birthday.
Jakob beat off stiff competition from all over the country in the skateboarding showcase and came first in the under 12 category, perfecting a number of daring moves.
The 12-year-old from Hazelbank picked up a skateboard for the first time when he was nine and despite showing promise as a footballer before then, hasn’t looked back from what’s widely considered the coolest sport in the world.
Heading to Cork in August, as he was stacked up against the best skaters in the country, Jakob says he had no idea he would win.
“I just went down hoping I could maybe do ok but I never ever thought I’d be the winner,” he says, modestly.
“I started skating three years ago because of my friend Dean. We all had skateboards that we never used and we just decided to start and see how far we’d get.”
If skating ramps and jumping from high sets of steps looks scary to the average non skater, that’s because it is! Jakob explained:
“It definitely is scary at the start but once you do the ramp once you’re not afraid then to do it again, and you just want to go bigger and bigger with them. Pretty soon we were going round to the skate park every day.
“It’s something I really enjoy and even though I want to go to university when I finish school I hope I’ll still be doing some skating too.”
Jakob’s mum, Sharon, is delighted at her son’s success.
“I’m absolutely over the moon, it’s such an achievement for him to have won a competition like this at All Ireland level. When we were down there watching everybody was just thrilled to bits to see him winning.”
Sharon explained how she was slightly nervous when her then nine year old son started taking up the sport.
“He’d been really into football and I always thought that was the direction he’d take,” she told the Sunday Journal.
“Then the skate park opened in Springtown and that all changed. He got so into it from the start and was really dedicated. He was there all the time. Every spare minute he had, he wanted to skate. For the first six months he was doing it, I couldn’t watch it. He’s a real daredevil and I found it terrifying looking at the size of those ramps. I mean, skating is a really cool environment, and we all know mammies aren’t cool!
Now, that’s all changed because I can see how seriously safety is taken and I definitely don’t worry as much. In the local parks where Jakob skates it’s a must to wear helmets so that’s reassuring.”
Despite covering her eyes as she watched on in the early days, Sharon says she has no fear now when it comes to supporting her son in the skateboarding competitions he takes part in.
“Now I’m the one telling him he can do it! I’m looking at the ramps and saying ‘of course you can get up there!’ It’s funny how things change.”
Sharon says she’s delighted that there are now a choice of venues for young people who want to skate in Derry, including ‘Rosy’s’ who recently awarded Jakob sponsorship.
“People campaigned for there to be skate parks here for a long time and Jakob certainly wouldn’t be doing as well as he’s doing now if it wasn’t for the facilities. He goes to Switch in Springtown and he also goes to Rosy’s, which is a fantastic park. Rosy has a real rapport with the skaters and he’s a great role model for the young people who go there.”
Sharon’s confident that with local support and the right facilities, Jakob can enjoy skateboarding for many years to come.
“He’s really grounded so he doesn’t let any of it go to his head and now he knows he has to knuckle down at school he’s happy to do that and skate after his homework’s done!”