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Zohair El Hadad -Interview


Zohair El Hadad – Interview                                                                  04/11/2013

We all know about the growing blading scene in the Arab World and that it started gaining acceptance. I had come across a photo on the One Mag website while doing my research on Morocco before my visit. It was a chap doing a crazy jump off a wall. Back then I wished to meet and join him for a skate. I pictured us blading on the streets of ancient medina.  Now I`m back with loads of memories, made tons of new friends among them a guy who I found very special. There is something pure n honest in this chap, constantly filled with joy, passion & love, doesn’t smoke, drink or smell like last night`s party, he prays instead, devotes his time to pure things and has the compassion to be kind to others under all circumstances. One of the coolest dudes I hv ever met. Skating with the feet is one thing, but skating with the heart is another. And he certainly does a pretty fucking rad job. It did my heart proud to meet such a spirited person. When we arranged the interview I asked him to link me few photos I could put up on the site. When I was directed back to One mag and that pic popped up on the screen again, I knew we meant to meet. Could not believe how lucky I was that my wish came true without even knowing it.

Hey Zo, tell me about yourself and when/how this all started?

Hey I`m 23 and living in Morocco. It all began 8 years ago when I saw a local guy skating a rail in Casablanca and I was hooked. I begged him to sell me his blades. I feel so lucky to have found my passion that truly fulfills me.

Best thing about blading:

Keep skating new spots, meet new people, travel and land a trick. Just get in the van with sleeping bags and hit the road. Always trying to look for a new adventures. Skating is like a never ending joy ride. It brings us together and we share good moments.

What is your local sk8 community like? Are there many people blading? Any pro riders? Skateparks? Street spots? Comps?

Lot of ppl don`t know what to expect when getting here. Our country is old, ancient and somehow seemingly stuck in time but we are not prehistoric men living in caves. We got Kfc and drive BMW-s, the guys shredding on the streets, and they`re also doing cool things like break dancing, trying to live a more alternative lifestyle.
Skating is growing, its good and its getting bigger. We’re achieving things, developing and quickly catching up, there is every reason to be optimistic. You will find skaters in Agadir, Essaouira, Fes, Casa, Kech, Rabat, Tangier, we got a crew and often do tours round the country!

The idea of local skateparks normally not supported by the city Councils though, but we are working on that hard, try and do something together and work with them towards something. To be fair we have some parks, some are good , some stood in poor condition for many years, they needed replacing but failed to find funding for the upkeep of them. The concrete are pretty poor, normally built by someone who ain`t got a clue about it. And just plain bad design. But we appreciate what we got, it could be worse. At least we got cool street spots, we don`t face harassment from the police and it`s a place without winter..haha

I don`t think your country get much exposure, will this change? What`s the next step for the community?

What we need right now is more comps, custom mini ramps built just for demos, Pro bladers hitting up our country. Fise was organised here few years back and the talents we have witnessed in the comp have blown us away, lot of people here have taken time off from work to come and skate, hang out with them. We need more events like this that will keep us motivated. Also if there was at least 1 skateshop in the country that would mean sponsorship opportunities and would give us access to all the stuff we need because at the moment we struggle to get equipments.

Hang on, did u say u ain`t got a skateshop at all? So where do you purchase your skates and parts? How do you cope?!

Ohh well we often buy them off the French guys, for example Yan, Mathias Silhan`s brother helps us with wheels or when pros doing tours here (like the GTK guys) they support us with frames and T- shirts. Lot of us can`t afford purchasing online because of  the high shipping cost you know. 

What do you hope to accomplish?

My aim is to inspire likeminded people to get involved in skating, putting the right people together, improve skating scene across Morocco, encourage youth to promote the use of the skateparks, so to get sponsors, fundings from the councils and get more local parks built, motivate people to run competitions and events, attract international interest. Unfortunately we don`t have the opportunity to travel the world or to compete abroad so we might as well make the most of our time and opportunities within our country`s boarders.

I hv heard it`s extremely complex to organise your visas, have you guys ever been abroad? What would it mean to you to be able to take part in Winterclash next year and roll?

I have never been abroad in fact none of us has. It`s almost impossible to obtain a Schengen visa for Europe. Going to the Clash would be like entering another dimension.. meeting pros, not to mention the vibe we only experienced that on screen, checking the vids. It`s a faraway world of our dreams..

Do you feel like that not being able to come abroad has affected your skate career? If yeah, how?

In a way yeah, it`s all about having a good time, but we are missing out on a lot. We probably could grow bigger if we had access to international events. Taking part in comps abroad would be a good way of building our profile. Meeting people, making new friends and just get out there and represent our country.

Guess if u got hooked up and join an international team, you could get a visa easier and travel the world.  Any companies u like to be sponsored by, teams u would join?

Never really played with this idea, but REMZ is the closest to my heart… But we could just get married, that would be even easier. Visa for life….

I’ve done a few crazy things in my life but that would surely be first on my list..We shall see. Now tell me who do you admire in the world of rollerblading and why? Top 3 skaters?

My all time fav is Broskow, I like his street style skating.  Also Chris Haffey, Mark Wojda

Favourite tricks right now?

Rocket fishbrain, backslides

Any other places you wanna go/skate/live?

Barcelona, Woodward…

What`s on your wish list ?

The acceptance of all types of skating amongst us. Skating at WinterClash with my friends.

Last chance to say whatever u want:

Thank you so much Mel for your kind attention and help to get the word out, I`m so glad to meet someone like you, I wish you continued success in all your activities, blessings and joy. Also hope to welcome more bladers, visitors in Morocco. Hit us up!

I wish you the same, It’s been fun talking to you again buddy, see you at the Clash!

 I highly recommend these clips:

Skating for a cause. Me & my red suitcase are spreading the idea of inline skating, travelling for charities. We are always on the road, having crazy adventures.