Mario Ivanković from the Rolling Wheels Youth Association
December 28, 2021 – Meet Mario IvankoviÄ, the founder of the Rolling Wheels Youth Association, whose mission is to popularize skateboarding in Vukovar.
After last week’s decorations, gifts and cakes and sweets, for this week’s edition of Vukovar 365, we decided it was time for creativity combined with movement and sport. And to celebrate this extreme, and for many an unusual sport entering the Olympic realms, I decided to speak to one of its rare representatives here in Vukovar.
Meet Mario IvankoviÄ, the founder of the Rolling Wheels Youth Association, whose mission is to popularize skateboarding. In order to bring it closer to the general public and educate the people of Vukovar about the many benefits of always banging their ankles with a wooden board, Mario founded Rolling Wheels with his friend Igor in 2009.
In the twelve years that have passed since then, the Association has successfully organized events and festivals, made itself known throughout the country and managed to convince the city of Vukovar to finance the construction not of one, but two skateparks. Not too bad, is not it? The skateboarding population in Vukovar has also grown from the first two skateboarders (you guessed it, Mario and Igor) to dozens of young boys and girls practicing the art.
Skateboarding has become an Olympic sport, their horizons have broadened and the dynamic duo seek to transform the Association into a skate club, which would allow them to carry out more activities, and on a larger scale. Not only are there new places to spend time in Vukovar, but they also help us find new things to do. However, we do not recommend trying it at home.
Tell us about your association. How did you get started and what do you do?
Rolling Wheels was founded in 2009. Our first goal, which we achieved in 2013, was to build a skatepark in Vukovar. Other than that, we wanted to popularize skateboarding in Croatia. Extreme sports have always been sidelined and viewed as dangerous and mischievous. Skateboards were frowned upon by the city council and residents of Vukovar. To popularize skateboarding and present it in a more positive way, we decided to get together and organize skate competitions.
What projects have you carried out in Vukovar, can you describe them?
Our main project which ran from 2009 to 2018 was Vukovar Street Art. It was a one-day festival of extreme sports (skateboarding, BMX, and online best lap contests) that included alternative cultures like hip-hop concerts, graffiti workshops and B-boying. Vukovar Street Art was special because it took place in the city center where skateboarders were showing their skills to everyone and everyone who passed by. On top of that, it was the first best trick competition in Croatia. Each year, the competition grew and attracted more and more visitors.
How many people participated, where were they from? What about those who just watched?
The observers were mainly locals who came with children more than impressed by the tricks than the skaters themselves. It was something unusual and different since it brought together a bunch of different people from all over Croatia doing tricks on a piece of wood, so to speak. Competitors and visitors came from all over Croatia and even Serbia, Bosnia, Germany, Slovenia and Brazil.
How successful were you in securing sponsorships?
Getting sponsors from skate shops and skate brands was pretty easy, actually. As this was a different kind of competition, everyone was ready to support us. Getting the stage together has always been a pleasure and the smiles on our friends’ faces kept us going. The hard part was getting the financial support we needed, but it always turned out well. The main financial sponsor has always been the city of Vukovar.
What future for the association?
The Association is now changing. Since skateboarding has become an Olympic sport, it has become clear that it is here to stay. In order to join the Croatian skateboard committee, it must now become a skateboard club. To do this, we need to make certain changes within our organization, including amending the statutes. By becoming a skateboard club, we will gain full membership in the Croatian skateboard committee and be able to organize national cups in Vukovar.
Are you planning any new projects in the near future?
One of our main goals for 2022 is to organize a national cup in the newly built skatepark of Vukovars. The Cup will be sponsored by the Croatian Olympic Committee, more specifically the Croatian Skate Association.
Would you be interested in working with CROMADS and participating in the Vukovar Card initiative?
Yes, we would. It could broaden our horizons and introduce us to new people.
Finally, tell us about Vukovar. Why should people visit?
First of all because of its rich history. The city is filled with beautiful buildings and houses and the Danube river gives it a special atmosphere. The neighboring towns are also worth a visit. If you are visiting Vukovar, you should definitely visit the City Museum, the recently renovated water tower, the Inner War Memorial Center, and stroll through the city center and walks along the Vuka and Danube rivers.
Where can we find you?
You can check us out on the Vukovar Street Art Facebook page.
To learn more about the way of life in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN page.