Sports Gazette

The sports magazine brought to you by the next generation of sport writers

“Whenever I’m with London Longboard Girls I feel at home”: meet the skaters changing perceptions

London Longboard Girls arrive in Hyde Park with boards and protective gear on the stairs below the grand Royal Albert Memorial. But when they start to skate, the grey concrete path beneath them becomes something far greater.

Every month, the community of 100 skaters turn the sites of Hyde Park, Greenwich Docks, Decathlon Canada Water, Hog Hill Road, Nine Elms car park or Harrow Pump Track into a space to empower girls, women, trans and non-binary people.

In the past year, Chloe Kourga, a Yoga teacher, has become co-leader of London Longboard Girls and spoke to the Sports Gazette about how and why it was created.

Chloé Kourga dancing on her longboard in Hyde Park
Chloé Kourga longboard dancing – Credit: Evie Ashton

The group has met regularly for two years and is the London arm of Longboard Girls Crew UK, part of a global community that promotes similar projects all around the world.

“[The founders] were a few women in a very male-dominated field. They saw a need for a space just for women where they would feel more confident trying Longboarding out or just have a safe space to build a community of women,” said Kourga who co-leads alongside Imi.

Kourga stresses that the group, rather than being born out of sexist treatment, was started to address the current inequities in the sport, such as low participation among women and the trans community.

“There was never a catalyst of something really bad that happened. It’s not coming from a place of hating men or wanting to do something else. The feeling of the group was never to exclude.

“We thought, is there a way to amplify women’s voices even more and bring more women to the sport? Let’s create one that’s made for women by women and that’s it,” said Kourga.

Group of longboard skaters sat in a circle listening to co-leader Imi Thrussell
Co-leader Imi running a session – Credit: Chloé Kourga

As part of encouraging participation amongst minority groups in sport, the co-leaders aim to change the narrative that longboarding is a dangerous sport.

“[The goal is to] make people not afraid to try this because it is still a very intimidating sport, especially when you see professional male skaters with an injury history and it looks quite scary.

“We want to break that stereotype, and show it is a fun sport that you can do with your friends.”

The meetups range from beginner and intermediate longboard dancing, freestyle, carving, and downhill workshops to, picnics, scavenger hunts and group cruises around London.

However, it is the intangible sense of community and friendship that keeps members coming back.

Kourga, who taught herself to longboard to cope with the lockdowns during the pandemic, values the support system the sport has brought her post-COVID.

“Living in London or in big cities can be quite lonely. So, it brings me so much joy to create friendships and be able to look back a year down the line at these people who met through longboarding and are hanging out all the time.”

Four longboard skaters sat in a row with their boards
Credit: Chloé Kourga

For Polina Liu, a beginner who recently joined in December 2023, she thrived despite trying something out her comfort zone with no prior experience.

“As soon as I stood on the board, I felt so challenged and decided, ‘Oh my gosh, I need to learn to balance and develop all the skills because it was completely new to me.’

“It’s especially important to be somewhere where no one is going to judge or look at you in a weird way. If I did not feel comfortable and safe, I would not have continued.

“But that is the beauty of this group. They make everyone feel so welcome and safe to give it a go,” said Liu.

To give up one’s lunch break for a meet-up is a further testament to the groups enduring allure, as Anna tells the Sports Gazette.

“There is just something so wonderful about loads of people getting together in Hyde Park and just skating on concrete for a few hours.”

“I’m going to learn some new things and be inspired by all the tricks that the girls are doing.”

For the few hours London Longboard Girls inhabit the space below the Albert Memorial, it is no longer a stretch of grey concrete.

To those who once thought skating was not for them, it becomes a place of euphoria and empowerment that they can call their own.

“I love the group so much. I just know that whenever I come, I’m going to feel so at home and so happy,” said Anna.

Their next meet up is an Easter Egg Longboard Hunt on 6th April in Hyde Park.

London Longboard Girls sit in front of the Royal Albert Memorial posing for a photo
Credit: Chloé Kourga


  • Evie Ashton

    Evie is a sports journalist specialising in features covering social issues & underrepresented groups in sport with bylines in BBC Sport, Sky Sports, and The Cricketer. Looking to highlight voices of (but not limited to) female, queer, or disabled sportspersons. Get in touch if you have a story!