Sidewalk Skateboarding First Light - Faro Phiri - Sidewalk Skateboarding

So Faro – give us the stats: how old are you, where are you from, how long have you been skating for and what are you doing right now?

I’m 22, from Zimbabwe and I’ve been skating about 8 years, should be 9 but FIFA and CoD took over my life for a year. I just got back from London, went down for the Tall Boy premiere, which was so much fun.

So you kind of grew up in Wakefield, West Yorkshire but you were born in Zimbabwe, I that right?

Yeah man, lived in Castleford for like 6 months first before moving to Outwood, next to Wakefield.

How old were you when you left? Can you remember much about Harare/life in Zimbabwe?

I was 9 when we moved here. My dad was an engineer in the air force when I was born so we lived in the air base complex and my mum was a nurse in a government hospital. Mainly I can remember just being really naughty. Once my friend and I were throwing stones in the sky in between these blocks of flats and I accidentally hit a window. I did a runner but when I got in, the people whose window I’d smashed were in my house sat with my dad and Lord, the beating I got for that one, (laughs).

Why did you and your family leave Zimbabwe? Did you have links to Britain/this area already or something?

That was all through my mum, she got offered a job as a nurse at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield so she took it. I think one of her close friends got the same deal or something before my mum so she moved in with her, got settled in and then my dad came over maybe a year after, and then me and my sisters came once they had their own house and had found a school for us.

Could you already speak English when you arrived in Britain? Was there much of a culture shock suddenly being in Yorkshire?

Yeah man, we had English classes at school so it was pretty easy for us to make friends at when we came here. In terms of a culture shock, there wasn’t much of one really it all just kind of seemed the same, play with your friends after school, have times to be home, all that stuff… To be honest, the main thing that was surprising to me was how much other kids got let off with bad behaviour by their parents, (laughing).

So I’m assuming that you started skating after moving to the UK then right? How did that happen?

My parents would send us toys over to Zimbabwe a lot and my dad sent me a board one time. I’d never seen one before, so I literally only used it for like a day just getting pushed around whilst sitting down on it. I started skating properly when we were here in the UK. I was at my friend Tom Dick’s house and we were bored so we decided to go down a big hill nearby for something to do and obviously because all the “toys” were his, he chose the bike so I had to go on the skateboard. I don’t think I gave it back to him after that day.

Does skateboarding exist in Zimbabwe? You go back there fairly often right? Has it changed much from when you actually lived there?

Before I went over there last year I Googled “skateboarding in Zimbabwe” and only found a couple of videos from like 4 years ago, I messaged the guys so see if they still skated but didn’t get a reply. I don’t think it exists over there but people know of it. As far as visiting often, not really: last year was the first time my sisters and I went back since we moved to Britain. Mum and Dad had been a few times but it’s so expensive to go over there, it’s like a grand for a return ticket. Family members out there would ask me like why I skate, especially at this age. Everyone is brought up to focus on education and they have expectations of what you should be doing by a certain age and stuff so it’s strange to them that I skateboard at my age. I noticed a lot had changed when we went recently. It’s just getting more and more run down and there isn’t much opportunity for people, even for those with really good degrees. When we came over here, that was when it was beginning to get worse in Zimbabwe so yeah a lot has changed, people are struggling to get the bare necessities they need to get by.

There used to be a piece of graffiti at Thornes Park in Wakefield that said ‘Faro can’t fakie’. What was that about? Can’t you go backwards?

(Laughing) I’m honestly not sure – Brenna, Zak or Josh Hunter started that. I had never thought about it before but one of them must have noticed that I barely do fakie tricks. I think when I was first learning I thought that fakie was the easier way to do tricks so maybe that made me not go backwards too often. Saying that though I’m so bad at fakie kickflips…

Faro drops the V-Bomb on Coventry (insert WW2 analogy here) Seq Reece Leung

Faro drops the V-Bomb on Coventry (insert WW2 analogy here) Seq Reece Leung

On a scale of 1 to 10 – how stoked were you when Farran (Golding) got Ishod Wair to give you a shout out on Instagram?

I was so gassed (laughing). I had blocked Farran on Facebook so he insta’d saying, ‘I’ve got something to send you’ and I had jokingly asked him for a shout out before he went. So when he said that I was like, “nah, he’s just saying that so I unblock him”. Next thing you know, the video message appears in the chat thing and I was just like no way, no way. I watched it and I was actually shaking. My housemate PJ was like, “what, what?” I showed him the video and he just instantly knew who it was. I even ball-bagged it to Tinderella the night after, before going to Athens, (laughing).

What’s the major difference in the Wakefield and Sheffield scenes (where you’re currently living) would you say?

Now there isn’t that much of a difference but when I first went, it was just the amount of people that were always on it filming or not in Sheff. I’m pretty lazy when I’m in Wakefield, I can easily spend all day at the park but I think that’s probably because I still find it hard to skate Dev Green so tend to skate street more when I’m in Sheffield.

You’ve just been over in Africa recently, where did you go and what did you get up to?

Yeah man, I was in South Africa. We’ve got some family over there that we didn’t see last year when we went to Zimbabwe, so we had another trip out for them. We were in Johannesburg for the first week and a half, then Durban for 3 days and then Vereeniging for the last week. Just the usual holiday stuff, I had hurt the ligaments in both my feet like 3 weeks before we went so it was good to just not be tempted to try and skate everyday. I still managed a cruise at Durban beach park on a rental board though…

Anything else that you’d like to say Faro?

Thanks to mum and dad, you guys at Sidewalk for this and Reece for the opportunity! Shout outs to WUG, Eazy Streets, Gary McNaughton and everyone I skate with. Martin Kennelly, Louis Slater for Ravenous, Slugger and adidas and Baines for the Story stuff! Also Wayne at Division24, probably wouldn’t still be skating if he didn’t let me take boards and pay later! Hope Brenna and Shaun recover quickly after their surgeries; it’s been a minute. And you Timmy mate!