Australian Skateboarding Federation

drew 14:43 03/Aug/15

Here is a little/long interview with Renton in regards to the ASF for those with an interest in the post apocalyptic skateboarding governance landscape. These guys are the ones runnign the 6k comp in Coolum in a month or 2.


What is the ASF
The ASF is a development body for skateboarding in Australia. It is an organisation that is independent from other sports. Our focus is on the growth of skateboard participation and to enable and facilitate organised skateboarding, which is essentially competition. The Australian Skateboard Federation is recognised by the International Skateboard Federation.

Why is the ASF happening?
The ASF is happening because the previous body had big problems and recently were cut off from their federal sports funding.

What happened with Skate Australia?
I think most people know at least the fundamentals of the story. Over twelve or so years they got a lot of taxpayer money and didn’t fulfil their obligations. The Australian Sports Commision cut their funding.

Why Does Skateboarding need organisations like this?
Whether we are needed or not is not really the question because the government will appoint an organisation to represent skateboarding regardless. We think that a organisation that only has the focus on skateboarding is vital to the best future for skateboarding. Our reason for being is to help skateboarding grow at a grass roots level, as well as facilitate organised skateboarding (basically, competitions). As far as the actual act of skateboarding, its culture, its industry, all that doesn’t need a governing organisation. All that has survived the past thirty or more years without an effective organisation and absolutely thrived.

How did the ASF come about?
The ASF came about after Skate Australia failed to deliver the Australian Championships. There was problems before and after that, but that was their highest profile failure. Since that happened the Australian Sports Commision gave them some time to fix themselves, and after a period of time Skate Australia had their funding cut.

Effectively what was happening was the Roller Skate Federation had skateboarders working at front of the shop. I was quite vocal when they didn’t deliver their advertised series because I felt that skateboarders should know the truth after they failed so monumentally. For those in the know it was no surprise. I actually did try and set up the Australian Skateboard Federation in 2008 because I had been against the idea of roller skaters having such influence in skateboarding. I was fundamentally against the idea that a group of people with no roots in skateboarding got an amount of money for all their "rollersports” and had the power to decide how much was given to skateboarding. Skateboarding has huge participation. I don’t even know of a roller skater. There was a thought amongst people that followed Skate Australia that they were only using Skateboarding to prop up their other tiny roller skating sports.

A mate Shane Serena and I registered the name and did the paperwork to get the Australian Skateboard Federation made in 2008. Around then though Skate Australia gained some momentum and an influx of a large amount of federal funding, it got some new employees and it seemed like perhaps it could go in a healthy direction. A few years and loads of money it fell apart, the crescendo being the failure to deliver the advertised series around Australia, that left entrants with useless travel plans, and winners without prizes and with all the money gone. It was such a bad situation.

Around the time of the failed Australian Championships I was approached by some other people that wanted to help create an alternative that was focused on skateboarding only. I was first contacted by a skater Donny Fraser who has a business running skate school stuff in Queensland, The Northern Territory and Western Australia. We spent a lot of time talking about how to solve the governance problem. Sometime around then Donny was introduced to Guy Gibbons through a mutual friend who thought Guy may be able to help. Guy is a lawyer who has had experience with organisations in motor sports and surfing, and also owned a skate shop a long long time ago. We also connected up with David Cowling who is an accountant and another guy called Paul Hogan who is a player manager for NRL and Dale Cleaton who is a skateboarder and a computer whiz. We were aiming to connect with people who had the professional skill set and experience to effectively set up a new organisation that could be both successful with connecting with the skaters, reach its goals within skateboarding and also be a viable sustainable business… otherwise it would go belly up like Skate Australia.

Now I know some people may read about the above guys who are not skateboarders and why we are different to Skate Australia. Our goal first and foremost is to set up a financially sustainable Federation, it has to be. Essentially an organisation that can do the job of developing not just getting doled out money from the government, but to be able to not only survive, but thrive. We want to be able to give justice to the sport, art, or whatever name you like to give the activity of skateboarding. One big difference to Skate Australia is that we solely deal with skateboarding. No one involved is going to sacrifice anything from skateboarding to give to any other activity or put the goals of another organisation above the greater good of skateboarding: we have a sole focus on skateboarding. Everyone that we have working on the ASF has been successful in the private world in the area that they are applying to ASF and that’s another key difference the ASF has to Skate Australia.

Who is the ASF?
At the moment the board is David Cowling, Guy Gibbons and I. I am essentially a board member and a spokesperson. Also a founder. There has been a lot of input from Donny Fraser, Paul Hogan who is a sports manager, and Dale Cleaton taking care of the web stuff. All have worked the last year on the project with no return, and continue to do so. We certainly hope that we will get recognised, and funded. No matter what though, we aren’t going anywhere. The model we have made can be effective without funding. Our model is very different to Skate Australia. Rather than try to deliver every event and program we enable other people and organisations and sanction them. We have also reached out to a number of organisations and individuals working in the same area like the Victorian Skateboard Association, Chad Ford, who organised the ASF to sanction Bowlarama and The Australian Bowl Riding Championships last year and some other skate school type crews around the country.

How many member does the ASF have?
It is over 1000 competition members. There are different levels of membership. Anyone who does a workshop, or enters a contest we sanction is a member.

Is the ASF funded by the government?
The ASF is currently completely voluntary at this stage. I myself have worked the last year on it, and I have probably put a couple of thousand dollars into it going to meetings interstate. I know the others have put bits of cash in, and its been a lot of work. The goal is definitely to get recognised, and I think we can make that happen. Whether that is tomorrow, or in two years, we think it will happen. But regardless we won’t be going away. The idea is to set it up properly and successfully, even if it takes time. We won’t sacrifice that for a quick return.

Why did you get involved in the ASF
Myself, I got involved because I thought it was wrong that a group of roller skaters had control of skateboarding governance. I didn’t really think about what I was doing when Skate Australia failed to deliver the contest series, and I made a petition to get Skate Australia ousted. When the dust settled on that and they were still funded and recognised I realised I had signed up for something bigger.

I was also motivated because I have been on the board of the International Skateboard Federation for almost ten years and the situation in Australia isn’t a unique case. Skate Australias parent body is called FIRS or Rollersports. FIRS is the organisation for rollerskating and it has been the centre organisation presiding over roller-skate organisations in many countries that have taken control of skateboarding in their country. Knowing the situation overseas clued me in early to what was happening with the Roller-skate Federations. They were attaching themselves to skateboarding, and not doing a sufficiently good enough job to take care of skateboarding. In Skate Australias case they did a incredibly bad job and got their funding revoked.

Who is the ISF?
The ISF is the international skateboard Federation. It was started about 12 years ago when the International Olympic Committee began to look at skateboarding as an Olympic Sport. At that stage FIRS (also known as Rollersports), the presiding International organisation over Skate Australia, had been trying to get their grips on skateboarding internationally to get the power that comes with being the boss of an Olympic sport. The Olympics means a lot of money for an organisation, pretty much a cash cow too big to resist. Some fore thinking people like Tony Hawk and Gary Ream saw that roller skaters were starting to annex skateboarding on an international level and had the thought that it doesn’t matter what skateboarders thought about the Olympics, skateboarding will eventually be in the Olympics. If skaters don’t act ahead of this then skateboarding at Olympic level would get controlled by the roller skating organisation that were lobbying to take control of skateboard governance globally. Thats a lot of power and money going the way of non skaters to preside over skateboarding globally. To me after seeing what happened with Skate Australia its just scary.

My opinion of the Olympics was that while its easy to just say “F@ck the Olympics” and turn away, I thought having skaters with the best interests of skateboarding involved is way better than having roller skaters control it. I was prepared to help if I could. The people involved at that stage were a bunch of skaters I knew from all continents, as well as Tony Hawk, Neal Hendrix, Gary Ream, Per Welinder, Josh Friedberg and others. Guys that I knew that had the best interests of skating at heart. At that stage I went to a meeting after an XGames or a Dew tour and I put my hand up to be representative. The Olympics that was just around the corner was Beijing. Skating didn’t get in to that one. Recently there has been more desire from the Olympics to get skateboarding involved. A lot of people in skateboarding and the industry of skate competitions are now of the opinion that if skateboarding is gonna get into the Olympics then it should have some proper influence from skateboarders. I’m not going to do the hard sell on the ISF because it doesnt need it. If you really want the information about it, and the people that are behind it have a look on the internet. Just take note though, its not the World Skateboard Federation, that’s a different group. The ISF this year just began sanctioning Street League. Some of the guys endorsing it are Tony Hawk, Eric Koston, Steve Berra, Bob Burnquist, Rob Dyrdek and Chris Cole. Theres some key industry people behind it too.

Whats your stance on the Olympics?
My stance on the Olympics doesn’t matter. Neither does the sum of every skateboarders opinions alive. The only people that matter are the people who control it and that is the people in charge of the Olympics and I think skateboarding is way to big for them to ignore forever. If it gets in, I do think a lot of good will become of it. Skateboarding will grow. More boards will sell. There will be more pros. Pros will make more money. There will be a bigger demand for skateparks. It will help skateshops survive because assumedly there will be more skaters. There would likely be more regulation and higher standards in skatepark construction and that would drive out two bit fly by night skatepark designers and builders.

I think even the core will benefit because I think mainstream skating like The XGames exposes skating to kids and hooks them in, and not too long after the kid sees all the other rad forms of skating. The Olympics will be like that on a bigger scale. I did a demo at the Nanjing Youth Olympics for the ISF last year where skating was a demo sport, I got a glimpse of the Olympics. One of the cool things was that everything is %50 female, and %50 male. I think that was really different at each session for the two weeks to be skating with always half boys and half girls. It was good. It was a different dynamic that I thought was positive and would be good if that came to skating at large. I think the Olympics will bring a lot of positives to skateboarding like improving skateparks. Australia doesnt really need that because we have amazing parks… but for sure in other countries that have comparatively worse skateparks than ours, things will get a lot better.

I also don’t think it will take away from the culture. If skateboarding in anyway looks to become less wild then the people so inclined will just stick their fingers up to the world even higher. If skateboarding looks to lose its edge then certain crew will go the other way even harder in the complete other direction. Skateboarding will never be limited. The options will always be as open as the skaters are who are doing it. If it gets in the Olympics will only be a small part of skateboarding. I do think skateboarding will change the Olympics though.

What is the ASF ethos?
The ASFs ethos is to help enable and facilitate other organisations and people to help grow and manage organised skateboarding. Largely if you organised skate events when Skate Australia was around you either did it for SBA, or you were considered competition. It wasn’t healthy, and it certainly wasn’t successful because after an enormous amount of government money they had to shut their doors. Our approach is to help other people make things happen.

Our first port of call was to get a group insurance policy that we can offer cheaper to event organisers and people doing skate workshops. We also have the ability to sanction events and leverage cheaper insurance to competition, which in other situations can be a headache. Skateboarding has traditionally been made by people doing the hard graft getting small events and things off the ground. We want to help those people by giving them the tools and information to make it easier. If those people succeed, skateboarding wins.

We will also track the results of events, and get some cohesive contest pathways happening. A contest pathway is the path a skater would take from the smallest skate comp in their town, all the way to Street League or whatever the highest level of skateboarding is in their discipline. We want to create opportunity and we also want to apply unbiased rules.

We also want to have differentiation to what already exists that the provide sector provides to skateboarding. Stuff like media, commissioning video parts and stuff like that. The private sector do it so well and we really shouldn’t compete with them because realistically they are the people that built skateboarding as it exists today. That side of skating doesnt need help.

We need to provide the things that the private sector doesn’t. Facilitating unbiased contests and formats, educating judges, Compiling information, disseminating information, training people to teach newcomers to skating. Helping growth of skating and helping people with things like insurance. Helping others get skateparks built. It sounds boring. Compared with the act of skateboarding National Governance is mind-numbingly boring. It is a lot of stuff that a normal skateboarder should never have to think about or hear about. Some of it is stuff I would prefer not to think about. And that’s probably why no one has done it successfully in Australia.

What does the ASF do at the moment:
First off just to note we are a voluntary organisation so a lot of what we do is work in progress, but we are getting there.

At the moment we have sanctioned about 400 grass roots workshops around the country, as well as sanctioned a lot of smaller contests (I don’t know the exact number off hand). We can accredit coaches. I actually really don’t like that word when used with skateboarding, but all it means is a person that teaches kids when they first start and its not a guy that sits on the sidelines telling you to do another kick flip because the last one wasn’t perfect. We work with a few different providers at the moment. We also selected two riders from Oceania for Street league in Barcelona on behalf of the International Skateboard Federation, and we will pick another two for the next Street league in Chicago which will be The World Championships of Skateboarding. The guys we picked for Barcelona were Tommy Finn and Dane Burman. Ultimately those two spots would be decided by a contest in the future, and those contest pathways are being built at the moment.

We have sanctioned some bigger events, and we are currently sanctioning an event for Queensland in Coolum Bowl. Its been hard work getting it off the ground with minimal budget and resources but we have got it off the ground with $6k prize money. I tell you what if we get recognised and funded we are gonna know how to work with small budgets. Oh yeah, and I forgot to say before, a big reason why I got involved in this is because I spent my career going to contests, had a passion for them, and I wanted to see a better system in the system behind who controls them in in Australia. Its uncool to say you like contests in skateboarding, but I think they are fun and I got so much satisfaction and enjoyment out of them in my career. They aren’t the be all and end all obviously, but its seriously rad to make a rad run, make a stack of cash and then celebrate with your friends. I just don’t see how these roller skaters fit into that equation anywhere. I mean they weren’t even any good at business either. Had they brought any sort of sustainable opportunities to skating in Australia or skaters then that would of maybe seen them have a place in skateboarding but they couldn’t even do that with the millions of dollars they got and they went broke. In the end it wasn’t because they were roller skaters they had their funding revoked, it was because they were incompetent. How they behaved was out of hand. Really.

So at the moment you are mainly dealing with bowl skating?
The reason we have hit bowl skateboarding is because we are trying to build contest pathways. We want a clear view for a kid to go from his little local comp to the world stage. For us bowl was the easiest first option because the highest level comps already exist in Australia and because bowl skating is a smaller community and easier to organise. Its pretty much the most advanced form of contest skating in Oz.. it has about $160k purse in pro contests. We felt if we can build the smaller comps then we have a cohesive path for kids to take from bottom to top. We are taking this process in bite sized chunks, and we are taking the path of least resistance, and bowl was the obvious place to take the first bite.

I’m looking to work on street as soon as we can. Presently, there is no series in Australia with any reflection to skateboarding at the highest level. Last year I think we had Wild in the Parks which was rad but doesn’t look to be happening again this year as a contest. If the Skate Australia one last year came to fruition it would of been sick, but somehow, even with a small fortune they couldn’t make it happen. Street Comp skating Nationally almost has to be rebuilt from the bottom to the top.

What about vert?
I love vert. I love all types of skating and in time all types of skating will get focus from the ASF. Its all Work in Progress.

What does the future hold?
The only thing I can say for sure is loads more work, but that’s cool. I took this on knowing full well it would be an absolute mission and I had already been involved in some massive projects before like getting StKilda Skatepark built so I knew exactly what I signed up for. Ultimately what the future holds is that the ASF gets recognised by the Australian Sporting Commision and we have a successful and sustainable business model for the governance of skateboarding while keeping the values of skateboarding at heart. We aren’t gonna try to be cool. We aren’t a board brand. We are the guys that sit between the government and skateboarding and the other organisations involved in organised skateboarding. We aren’t gonna try and be something we are not. We are an organisation and we have to be unbiased, on point, and keep skateboardings best values at heart. For myself, I have a passion for skate events and my own priority is to help facilitate events of the highest quality.

Oh yeah, and we have the Comp at Coolum in about 6 weeks. $6k purse. $1k just for girls. It will be a banger. 12 September, Coolum Skatepark.

I’m over all this serious stuff. I’m going skating.

Australian Skateboarding Federation

Insomniajosh 15:22 03/Aug/15

Nice one Renton!

neeburn 18:51 03/Aug/15

Yeah Renton!

It is a big job, and the ASF will need everyone to help.
You also need State Sporting Associations to be established in EVERY State, and affiliated with ASF.

The oldest (Renton has a Trophy to prove it!) recognised state sporting association, the Victorian Skateboard Association is also ready to help you with establishing your own sporting associations in your own states.

You all need to support your sport, and take it back from Dr Pat!

Get involved, support your sport, and contact Renton and ask how you can help.

Don't ask what Renton he can do for you........ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR SKATEBOARDING!!!!!

Also lookout for the most established grass-roots SkatePark League series, with more than 50 events in Victoria, and new state series in TAS and SA.

Oldsklful 18:54 03/Aug/15

Yeah Man!! Good luck, it would be great to see the federal funding that's allocated to skateboarding actually benefit skateboarders.

Christopher. 19:14 03/Aug/15

If the ASF does get government funding I wonder how much will be allocated to Shredability Skateboarding (Renton''s private event company) programs?

Not against it, just want there to be transparency with who privately benefits from all the "volunteer work".

drew 19:40 03/Aug/15

Pretty sure skateboarding lost ALL federal funding. I thinking 'skating' got like 800k on average a year and as of July gets zero. Other sports seemed unaffected so I think skateboarding got shafted as a result of whatever happened at skate Aus/sba. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

Chris I'm sure Renton will read your comment so hopefully he responds. I prob should have asked that and other things - it was hardly investigative journalism on my part.

tuaki 20:07 04/Aug/15

Great work!

rento$ 20:49 04/Aug/15

Christopher. Good question. Im in a position to benefit if skateboarding succeeds, and I am also in a position to benefit if the ASF succeeds. All skaters, and all people in the same business i am in are in that same position. I also had Shredability before Skate Australia fell over. I didnt ask them to fail and to be honest I would of preferred they were set up succesfully first time around so I didnt have to do this work. Its my opinion the model we are working on now should of been set up a long time ago. So far I have only worked, and I have only put in my own money. Im an honest person. While I would rather avoid getting grilled by a lot of people at once on a forum Id like to invite anyone to message me, or ask me in person. Happy to answer a few questions though. Cheers

rento$ 21:07 04/Aug/15

Also, If you are another organisation, get in contact the ASF would like to help you make things happen for skateboarding. We cant offer the world at the moment but maybe we can help with insurance and stuff like that.

Silky_Johnson 14:52 20/Sep/15

just sounds like the typical old bloke skater without a job routine. get some new skills. politics aint for you renton. $$$$$$$$$$$$$

skate in loafers 17:03 29/Sep/15

absolute legend all the best @Silky_Johnson

skate in loafers 17:50 29/Sep/15

sadly agree with this thread unfortunately it must be molded and we have made it this far so what is the problem how we got here is how this has been moulded in the first place

skate in loafers 20:36 15/Oct/15

Sorry big ups to renton if there is anyway to help that would be nothing but a privilege really. As much as I don't think we will go backwards again, sports are individual so that should be enough to defy and seperate funding I guess. Feeling like I need to be informed again so will most likely read this thread again. Must be more that we can do for skateboarding to continue the growth I guess and provide progression for people seems to be one fundamental missing from where I am from at the moment at least regional country. Australia needs a fair chance from the history I have seen in my lifetime would be really sad to see things not develop for what I see

skate in loafers 20:38 15/Oct/15


skate in loafers 23:11 15/Oct/15

Best of luck

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