A Merseyside woman has set up a female skateboarding group to counter the sport’s male-dominated image.
Steff Norton created Liverpool Girl Skaters in January 2020 after seeing other cities do the same. The rise in female skateboarders has led to the creation of skateboarding communities across the UK.
Steff said: “I had been travelling from the Wirral to Manchester for the female skate nights at Projekts and wanted to create more of a community and awareness in the Merseyside area.”
Liverpool has a large skateboarding community but only a small number of female skateboarders, so Steff wanted to change this by creating a female-only skate culture and space. Liverpool Girls Skaters acts as a community project which brings female skaters across the city together for skate nights, socials and to offer support to beginners.
Skateboarding has long been a male-dominated extreme sport which overlooks its female participants. The highest paid skateboarder in the world, Nyjah Huston, even claimed skateboarding is not for girls back in 2013.
However, in recent years this has begun to change, from American pro skateboarder Lizzie Armanto winning over 30 skateboarding awards to 13-year-old Sky Brown claiming bronze at the 2020 Summer Olympics, making her Britain’s youngest-ever medallist. Skateboarding is closing the gender gap with skate brand Vans saying there are now more women than ever picking up a board.
Steff Norton, 29, got into skateboarding after being with her ex-partner, who skated. She saw the skateboarding culture and wanted to get involved herself. Steff said: “It was only until I went through depression when I threw myself into skating and going to more girl’s nights where I met some of the best people.
“Skateboarding is like nothing else I’ve experienced before, meeting new people in the community, and constantly having to pick yourself back up after you fall, along with the support is amazing.”
Steff believes that the main challenges female skateboarders face are “getting over ‘the fear’ and not being afraid to take up space and building confidence of skating by yourself in a male-dominated sport”. She acknowledges that getting over these challenges has come with time but in the end, it has helped her develop as a person outside of skateboarding as well.
Steff hopes that groups like Liverpool Girl Skaters will help women and girls see that sports do not have to be gendered to one group. She said: “Whatever activity you are doing is for everyone and anyone no matter what gender, race or religion.”
She added: “Since starting the girl’s nights, it’s just been great to see more people who identify as female giving skating a go and not letting age be a concern either. I’ve also been fortunate to get grant funding from the amazing Roll Models and Women Win programme, which will help grow the community further.”
Liverpool Girl Skaters meet regularly at skateparks across Merseyside including at indoor skatepark Ramp1 in Warrington where they skate together and offer tips to beginners. Steff said: “It is a great space to really open up the conversation with other female skaters to helping understand that everyone is in a similar position and trying to figure our way through life.”
For anyone interested in the sport, Steff encourages everyone to give it a go, no matter their age or ability. She said: “If you feel like you’re not enough or it’s too hard or haven’t got the coordination, you won’t truly know until you’re on the board and you get your first couple of pushes, being around people that inspire you.”
Steff added: “Skateboarding has changed my life in such an amazing way. It’s given me a sense of belonging and help me accept myself for who I am rather than always feeling like I have to be part of the ‘social norms’. I’m much more comfortable in myself and wanting to help others with this too.”