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"I want to be a role model for girls," says skater Letícia Bufoni
The Brazilian skate legend explains why now is the time for female skateboarders to shine and discusses the legacy she wants to leave behind.
Letícia Bufoni is still a young skater, only born in 1993, but she's an experienced, decorated athlete who has the typical swagger of someone who knows what they want. She understands her importance to women's skateboarding, especially in Brazil, but she wants more. We caught up with her to talk about the girls that she sees coming up and her hopes for the future; both the sport's and her own.
What do you think women's skateboarding needs to become even stronger?
Women's skateboarding has grown and changed a lot in recent years. It's bizarre how much it has grown. In the world ranking [street], three of the first four are Brazilian. Brazilian women's skateboarding is really strong in performance, but we need a little more support. I can't complain, I have excellent partners and sponsors who help me, so I'm one of the lucky ones. Speaking more for the others, I see many girls who are really good at skateboarding and have no support. There are so few events. Visibility is what's lacking, because the girls are really good. There's no lack of quality.
Visibility is what's lacking, because the girls are really good. There's no lack of quality
And why do you think that happens?
Nowadays, you have YouTube, Instagram, Twitter… You see all the videos and manoeuvres in real time, at any time. When I started, things weren't like that. Months after I started skating, I got a DVD that had girls skateboarding. So, six months before I started practising, I didn't know that girls could skate. It was much more difficult. Nowadays, with all the access we have to social networks, girls are evolving very fast and it is very beautiful to see the Brazilian skate scene.
And with all the history you already have, what kind of legacy do you want to leave?
I wasn't the first woman to appear on the Brazilian skateboard scene. There were several before me, but before I retire, maybe 15 or 20 years from now – because I'm very young, right? [laughs] – I want girls to look at me and see that it's possible to follow their dreams and realise every one of them. That's what I always wanted to leave as a legacy. So you look at a girl and say "Wow, that's cool, this girl rides a skateboard, she's a professional and I can be one too". Not only in skateboarding, but in any sport. This was something I didn't have when I started. I didn't have a girl that I could look up to, to be the same. So my biggest wish is to be a role model for girls.
And are there any girls coming up right now where you can see similarities with yourself early in your career?
Rayssa Leal, aka Fadinha. The way she arrived at competitions, the way she appeared, reminds me a bit of how I got to the X Games in 2007. She certainly has a bright future and is still very young. It's bizarre how girls and boys today start skating at an already very advanced level.
So stopping skating isn't an option for you?
Skateboarding has been part of my life for many years and it's really difficult to describe what it represents to me. It's a passion that I can't imagine ever stopping. When I get hurt it’s super hard not to skate and compete. I'll skate my whole life, for sure! Even when I'm very old, I want to at least ride a longboard on the beach. I even think: when it comes to having a child, how am I going to stop skating for a year? It'll be very difficult. The idea is to compete for many years, until I can't any more. But skateboarding is for life!
What are your expectations for 2021?
I hope that everything will return to normal, that this will all come to an end. I really want competitions and training to be back so I can go to Tokyo. We've been chasing this dream for some years, working hard and competing to be able to represent Brazil. I can't wait anymore. I'm super anxious and getting there to represent Brazil will be a huge dream come true. I want to bring the medal home, but my focus is to get there first.