On a board since his youngest age, Nytaï Aidlin is nowadays the founder of Rookie Slash. Whether he is doing BS Smith on a skateboard, or 360 Melon Grab on a snowboard : Nytaï believes in the empowering and educative potential of board and outdoor sports. We talked with him about his intentions behind his newly-created association, and his future projects.

Nytaï Aidlin by Rayan Asensio

Hi Nytaï – I hope you are doing good. Let's jump right into it, what motivated you to create this project?

In Switzerland we have what we call a civil service, which is mandatory (that or a military service). I had the opportunity to do parts of mine in diverse places that host asylum seekers throughout Geneva, including its infamous bunkers. These experiences gave me the space to talk with some of the refugees there. It struck me to see how disconnected they were from Geneva and its inhabitants. So this situation didn’t foster their learning of the language, nor of the culture. On the long term, it can lead to discriminatory practices while encouraging a sense of communitarianism – which is ultimately problematic.

Throughout my travels, the practice of sports led me to meet locals and positive communities. I shared slacklines with locals in New Zeeland’s’ public parks, riders in diverse skateparks across the Netherlands, I climbed with many people, or even chatted with local mountaineers on the lift! Now back in Switzerland, I noticed that on the one hand the board and outdoor sport community was large and diverse. Yet, the ‘refugee’ status marginalizes a lot of young people. I thought there was a link to be created there!

Sweet! Did you encounter a lot of challenges in the process of creating this link?

For the first winter program this year, we had the chance to be supported by the Association Lémanique de Ski et Snowboard Freestyle (ALSF)Thanks to their knowledge and coaches, we did some amazing skiing and trampoline sessions! 

GVA SK8 were also really supportive, they provided us with skateboards and all the necessary protective gears!

L’Hospice Général supported the project by spreading the word, and by arranging us buses to go to the mountains. We couldn’t do anything without them.

On my side, the biggest part of the work was to coordinate everything – that was a challenge! In the end it all perfectly worked out. Everyone enjoyed the project, participants and coaches alike! Getting positive feedback from the kids, seeing them going to the skatepark by themselves and making friends there is super gratifying.

What was the most difficult part of working with young people?

We had some challenges with communication. Some of our participants are learning French, so you have to be patient. But we always found someone to translate from one language to another, which makes for some very funny situations.

The young people are very motivated and respectful, they all learned a lot. Some are super motivated for this summer!

So the first winter program just finished, how was it?

Amazing! We had a group of 10 young people for the whole winter, we really had fun!

We organized 3 mountain trips to learn the ropes of skiing and snowboarding. It is super important to understand what is the Swiss culture, outside of our beautiful Geneva. We also had 3 trampoline evenings and muscle strengthening sessions to solidify the team. On top of that, we organized a dozen of skate sessions. Skateboarding is the ultimate way to meet locals. It’s always open, there is the possibility to get free boards at the park, and there’s always someone there to connect with!

Bastien Gallay

Would you change any aspect of it if you could?

More outings with more people, in more sports! I would also like to integrate the marginalized Swiss youth into the lessons and trips, but first things first... ahaha

What would say to someone who wants to set up a social project like yours?

Don't hesitate! Find motivated people. If you are alone, that’s not a problem – start organizing, and people will come if the project is cool! Moving forward as a team is really the most important thing.

Set up an action before you start. Be clear about what you want to do, and be realistic. We can't do it all at once.

And most importantly, have fun! Organizing projects has its fair dose of challenges, but it’s also a lot of fun.

Bastien Gallay

Sounds fun! Thank you for your time, cheers!