SPORTS: Recreation with Barranquilla’s Olaya Skate Club

Valerie Chico, 8 year-old roller-skater with Olaya Skate Club in Barranquilla

In 2015, the city of Barranquilla created a plan called “Everybody to the Park” (Todos al Parque) encouraging citizens to go to their local parks to practice sports such as running or skating. And it’s working. Today, it’s quite normal to see people in those places, which only short years ago were desolate. In fact, go any early morning or late evening and the parks will usually be full.

So far, the Municipality has renovated over 30 parks in the district. Nowadays, these open urban spaces look quite attractive and with new soccer fields, baseball diamonds, volleyball, tennis and basketball courts, Barranquilleros and visitors alike can take advantage of the opportunity to practice their favorite sports without the worry of crumbling infrastructure. One of these newly renovated parks is called Olaya, and is located between Calle 70B and 71, and between Carrera 31 and 30. It’s here that I jog four days a week. The park hosts many activities but there is one, in particular, which really brings the young kids out.

Parque Olaya is all about roller skating. Sonia Donado, an instructor who was born and raised in the city, mentioned to me that her club, Olaya Skate, is part of Atlantico’s roller skating league. In the beginning, she started roller skating as a hobby with her two daughters and decided to create the club after other parents kept approaching her to motivate their children into sports.

Today, there are around forty kids making up Olaya Skate Club. The age range for both boys and girls is from 4 to 13 years old. The local government helped Ms. Donado secure the space at the park for practice and the club also provides equipment such as roller skates, helmets, knee guards, uniforms, etc. to children from the Southwest locality (suroccidente) whose parents can’t afford to buy it.

The park doesn’t have an inline skating rink, but when they need one such as for competitions, they head over to El Patinodromo. Olaya Skate club also practices there on Saturdays. El Patinodromo is located on Carrera 53 and Calle 94 and is a place where everybody can practice roller skating.

There are different roller skating clubs in the city like Cardenales, Puerta de Oro, Mario Duran and many others. Sonia trains these kids with the help of five instructors. All of them have the same dreams: To become part of the Colombian Roller Skating league and to one day compete in the Roller Speed Skating World Championship.

In Barranquilla, there are also different roads where people can skate around the city. On Sundays you can enjoy any of the five Ciclovias, from 7:00 am until 12 noon. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional roller skater or a beginner, the only equipment you need is a pair of inline skates, some basic pads, a helmet and lots of determination.

Go outside and rediscover Barranquilla wearing skates, riding a bike, taking a walk, jogging or running. Click here for more information about the bike paths in the city.

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Carlos Guerra is a person who loves writing. His experience teaching Spanish to foreigners and his job as a Language and Culture Facilitator for the Peace Corps was his motivation to start writing about Barranquilla’s culture. He considers himself an ambassador of the Caribbean culture and Colombia. He loves teaching English and Spanish and enjoys learning from different cultures.