Competing in the Street Lines Skate Tournament for the first time, and taking the overall win, we caught up with Brandon Valjalo to talk about his experience at the event, the sport of Skateboarding in South Africa, his plans for the future, and more…
What does the sport of Skateboarding mean to you?
Skateboarding is such a beautiful thing because it truly is a space where you get to escape your reality and create. It’s truly a space where you are free to express yourself however you want to. I almost see it to be an art more than a sport. I say this because everybody will have their own unique approach to the same course that is set out for us. I say this all the time, but there is no other sport like skateboarding, because we celebrate when our competition do well and in the end it is actually only a competition against ourselves to be our best version on the day. The entertainment aspect of the level of skateboarding is more important than the actual result. Long story short is that skateboarding is everything to me both from a competitive perspective as well as from a lifestyle perspective. The camaraderie and friendships you’ll make because of skateboarding is truly amazing.
What have been some of the highlights of your career?
- Representing South Africa at the debut of Skateboarding at the Olympic Games.
- Winning the South African Championships in 2021.
- Winning the African Championships at Ultimate X.
- Hosting events in Kenya and Egypt with Red Bull, and Exploring more of the African skate scene.
- The Swatch Nines and being a part of the first collaboration between Skateboarding and Mountain biking.
- Skating with the community at Nike’s Shapa Soweto facility.
- Being a part of the Red Bull Euro Tour with the international squad.
- The Terminal Takeover project with Jamie Foy and Red Bull.
- There’s so many more moments that I could also add to the list because I’m grateful for every experience that comes my way but being able to travel the world and skate some of the best spots and most famous plazas is a dream come true for sure!
How would you best sum up your first experience at Street Lines this year?
It was amazing, being able to skate with the South African community again was so rad! The best way to sum up the event for me is “progression”, because the level of skateboarding was amazing amongst both the male and female divisions, and there’s also so many new faces that are getting into the scene. I love to see the next generations come through. The Street Lines event itself has even progressed and only gotten bigger as this is its third edition and I was stoked to be a part of it for the first time.
What does it mean to you to have won the event?
I have been competing on the international scene a lot while being surrounded by international skateboarders. So it was really cool to be able to see the level of SA skateboarding. I’m stoked that I was able to take the win while nursing an injured hip because it was looking like a tough field of really talented skateboarders from all around SA. After failing to execute in the best trick section at Ultimate X which left me off the podium I knew I had to have a better strategy approaching the Street Lines contest. But yeah, super stoked to build up the confidence while heading towards the World Championships in December.
What did you think of the level of skateboarding at this year’s event?
It was really good! I definitely think there is some work to be done by the guys on the line section but when it came down to the best tricks I was really stoked to see the level of tricks being done by the talented SA skate scene.
Which skaters impressed you the most and why?
I’m obviously always impressed by Moses (Adams) when he gets on a board. There’s just something about his style that is so explosive. I also wanted to give a major shout out to Thalente Biyela for also throwing it down with so much grace and style. Another Skater that stood out to me was Saeed Waggie after he threw down the Flip Front Blunt and Flip Back Smith on the double set handrail during Best Trick.
What do you feel the Street Lines Skate Tournament does for the sport of Skateboarding in South Africa?
It brings the whole skateboarding community together, which is super important for the overall progression of the sport. The event creates an environment for the local and national skateboarders to come showcase their skills. It is the first step that any skateboarder should take from a national standpoint to be able to see if they could keep up with the international scene. It will help you gain experience and become more calm when you get into a competition environment, which is also really important because some people genuinely can’t handle the pressure.
What changes or additions would you like to see added to the event in the future?
I would like to see Street Lines turn into a circuit in the future. Where they do multiple stops around the country. Let’s make it reach more people and more communities!
For anyone wanting to get into skateboarding, what advice would you offer them?
Have fun at all times, that’s the most important thing. Then after that I always advise people to try and fail but never fail to try.
What’s next for Brandon and where would you like to see your skating career take you?
I definitely see myself pushing towards qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics. I would like to compare the debut event that I skated in Tokyo, which had no spectators due to the Covid pandemic, to one where it will be filled with people in a city as historic and beautiful as Paris. Then I also got my video part in the works. I would like to drop one for Shortys and one on Red Bull’s channels in the near future.
Shoutout to all my friends, family and sponsors that support me on my journey. I appreciate all the love and good vibes that’s been coming in from everybody and to be real, it wouldn’t be worth it if it wasn’t for all the love that y’all show me.
Photos by Grant Mclachlan.