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Kick flipped | Has the toy industry helped fuel a surge in female skateboarders?

The toy industry’s increased engagement with the UK skateboarding scene is one among a number of factors contributing to a surge in participation in the sport, particularly among younger girls starting out for the first time.

According to Skateboard GB, the official body for UK skateboarding, the past year has witnessed a country-wide resurgence of the hobby, driven by a combination of factors including the sport’s inclusion at this year’s Olympics, new audiences discovering the hobby, and a natural return to the pastime over the pandemic.

Most notably, Skateboard GB has told ToyNews that the biggest growth in audience has been from the younger girls demographic, citing contributions from the toy industry as a factor behind the uptick.

Recent months have seen the toy space lean into the sport, witnessed in a series of partnerships with the UK’s youth skateboarder and Olympic hopeful, Sky Brown. At 12 years old, Brown is the youngest UK athlete to be heading to Tokyo this year, where hopes will be high for a silver, or even gold, medal.

Brown has been the focus of a number of toy partnerships across 2020 and 2021, including with Mattel who developed a Barbie doll in her likeness, championing the skateboarder as a role model for ‘breaking down boundaries for the next generation of girls.’ She also leant her name to a campaign with Spin Master’s fingerboard brand, Tech Deck last summer, and was most recently named ambassador for Plum Play’s new BOWL Trampoline.

The popularity of the young sportswoman has contributed to what Skateboard GB calculates to be a 20 per cent growth in female skateboarding year on year, which in-turn has fuelled an increase in focused events such as girls only sessions at skateparks across the UK.

“I think sometimes girls can feel a little bit intimidated when there are lots of boys around, so it’s good to see a lot of influencers coming through the ranks, and inspiring them to take up the sport themselves,” Skateboard GB’s head of digital engangement, Neil Ellis told ToyNews.

“It’s great to see Sky Brown doing partnerships with the toy space, because it’s a great way to introduce young people, and young girls into the sport, through these role models, and helping to make the sport a part of their conversation. 

“Mums and dads aren’t seen as cool, are they. You need to have these other people to get kids engaged with sport, too.”

Skateboarding in the UK is enjoying a current heightened popularity, with a predicted growth in uptake of the hobby put between seven to nine per cent. These stats are calculated by Skateboard GB who takes figures from independent skate shops and skate parks from around the country.

The pandemic has been cited as another major factor behind the current surge in popularity, and last year, the skateboard industry witnessed sell out sales figures for the first time in its history. 

ToyNews will be exploring the UK’s skateboarding resurgence in depth in the upcoming Spring/Summer issue.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of ToyNews and its sister title, Licensing.biz. He has worked his way from Staff Writer to Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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