This Skate Diplomacy piece describing how Brazil should be looking at skateboarding as the next wave of Sports Diplomacy and how they could influence other Latin American Countries to do the same. Neftalie is featured in this article and also discusses how Brazil could work with Cuba and CubaSkate. Translated from Portuguese.

Skateboard Diplomacy: Cradle of skaters world champions, Brazil has the opportunity to influence the young universe of fans of extreme sports



Sandro Dias, skateboarder, in the last X Games in the United States.


He takes the image of Brazil to a new audience (Photo: Christian Pondella / Getty Images)

"Where a Brazilian arrives to skate, a smile appears on the faces of people," says Pedro Barros, Santa Catarina 19 years, world champion in skateboard bowl game. Barros is the exponent of a new generation of Brazilian skaters who collect securities abroad. During the 1990s, the maneuvers of Sandro Dias and Bob Burnquist presented the Brazilian skate the world. Burnquist turned video game character in the game Bob Burnquist's Dreamland. Their videos Piece lot of my day on YouTube, were seen more 20 thousand times each. these young wide shorts, knee pads and helmet can be more than athletes. might act as diplomats, to bring a new image to the outside of Brazil. 

The skateboard has less visibility than football, but in terms of geopolitical sport, offers several advantages over our more traditional sport. It can be practiced in any urban area, even without specific infrastructure, and influence a very important group. "Skateboarding is a strategic tool in international politics by mostly involve youth - the future leaders, politicians and businessmen," says Williams Neftalie, search diplomacy sport at the University of Southern California.

The most famous example of diplomacy skateboard comes from Afghanistan. In 2007, the Australian Oliver Percovich and some friends introduced skateboarding to Afghan children. The initiative gained the name "Skateistan" ("Skateistão") and resulted in the first school of this practice in the country. In class, boys and girls learn more Afghans than maneuvers. Also absorb notions of collaboration, civic responsibility, arts, environment, culture of peace and values of Western culture, such as gender equality. Half of the students between 5 and 18 years working the streets of the country, and 40% are girls. In Afghanistan, it's still taboo that women walk the bike. But there is no restriction on the skateboard. The caster board is therefore a more appropriate tool for integrating children and adolescents of both sexes. The project also works in Cambodia.

Despite the worldwide popularity of Brazilian skaters, Williams says that Brazil does not explore the political dividends skateboard as he could. According to him, governments and companies investing in Brazil could skate with varied purposes like increasing the Brazilian influence in Cuba, one of the countries where the sport winning fans. The country is 54 years under the dictatorship of brothers Fidel and Raúl Castro. When she finished - something that seems closer, as the advancing age of the brothers - the Brazilian government will have to negotiate with new interlocutors. During the transition phase, have sympathy future Cuban leaders will be important. "It's hard to change the minds of adults who have spent decades listening to speeches of the Castro brothers," says Williams. "But Cubans boys are free of ideological baggage and are the future." The slopes of Havana, there are some initiatives in Brazil should be watching.

Despite the antagonism between the governments of Cuba and the United States, the ties between American and Cuban skaters have been narrowed. A project was born in 2010 when two American university, Miles Jackson and Lauren Bradley, visited Cuba and met the precarious conditions for the practice of skateboarding on the island. In Cuba there are no skate shops, and import equipment is difficult. Today, Cuba Skate is a cooperative effort that goes away from offices and bureaucrats and encourages the Cuban skateboard by sending equipment to Havana and exchange programs between the two countries. No big ambitions, the Brazilian skateboarder Sandro Dias was a kind of pioneer of Cuba Skate.

In 2004, he was the first professional skateboarder to visit Cuba. "After leaving Cuba, a box filled with used skates and sent it there," he says. He says that skateboarding can stand as a universal language. "Skater in Brazil or China is one family. Through skateboarding, the world speaks the same language. "

Diplomacy does not happen only in official meetings and inside cabinets. Masterful skate tricks or passes sweeping ball can do more for international relations than dozen official speeches of diplomats suits. This type of initiative is known as "soft power" or "soft power", the ability of a country to win the sympathy of other nations and tilt them to act according to their interests. To bring peoples, it is important to cultivate common values. The diplomatic playbook of "soft power" has different initiatives of economic or military cooperation programs. There is space for a drawing as Zé Carioca, released by Disney in 1943, before Brazil sending troops to Europe in World War II.

During the world championship table tennis in Japan in 1971, the Chinese delegation invited American players to visit Beijing. United States and China were severed since 1949, with the division of the world into capitalist and communist blocs. The invitation to play table tennis reunited the two countries in what became known as "ping pong diplomacy". 

A pop idol, as Korean singer Psy, is also an informal diplomat from his country. The world of pop music "Gangnam style" in 2012 was a fluke - for many, a mystery. Around that accident, there was a favorable environment. In 2009, South Korea will step up the Presidential Council on National Image, dedicated to promote the "soft power".

Brazil already uses football as a diplomatic tool in the friendly initiatives such as peace, the Brazilian National Team game against Haiti in 2008. Tourists and Brazilian entrepreneurs benefit from this sympathy when traveling for pleasure or business. Since 2008, when the General Coordination of Exchange and Sport Cooperation (BEC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was established sports are officially considered a tool of Brazil's foreign policy. According to Vera Cynthia Alvarez, Chief of BEC, the decision to use them as a demand came from countries with which Brazil has good relations. They realized the economic importance of sports and wanted help to strengthen their national teams. Diplomacy sport conducted by the Foreign Ministry following the playbook of "soft power". Cooperation is not made with direct and explicit interests but aims to win the sympathy of other nations before the Brazilian positions. The worldwide popularity of Brazilian skate shows that we have the potential to explore this area.