Aim High: Gose Gerald Interview

Written by Niall Neeson

Gose Gerald is a righteous individual. Quite aside from being Coach of the Ugandan Olympic skateboarding team who have taken their place among the nations of the globe on the World Skateboarding Tour this year, he is a talismanic organiser with boundless energy. If you are aware of Gose at all, you will know he is also the guiding spirit behind the Uganda Skateboarding Society, a collective who built their own unique park from plans off the internet- and then started to create their own moves.

The unit of measurement in skateboarding is heart, and Gose Gerald has it in fulsome supply. We bumped into him at the WST Park World Championships in Italy and arranged this interview to find out more from him about the patronage of Tony Hawk, being an ambassador- and the power of social media.

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Hello Sir: first of all, can you quickly introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your personal background?

I’m Nsubuga Gerald, but most commonly known as Gose Gerald within the skate community; I was born and raised in Gulf, one of Kampala’s ghetto suburbs. I turned twenty-seven in July this year, and I’ve been skating since 2005… I’m one of the pioneers who introduced skateboarding in Uganda. In 2013, I officially became the first sponsored skateboarder in Uganda, when Mountain Dew Uganda made me their official brand ambassador- whereby they came on board and we started promoting skateboarding in high schools.

What exactly is the Uganda Skateboard Society?

After making lots of skateboarding tours with Mountain Dew Uganda in high schools, I realised that the youth were so interested to learn skateboarding- but the only challenge was, we didn't have skate shops or skateparks... and it looked kind of boring, since myself and a few homies were the only people who were skating, by then.

After observing all these challenges, I thought of reaching out to some of the big skaters I used to follow on social media. Unfortunately, they couldn't respond back due to the message traffic in their inboxes- and, besides, no-one knew about me on the international skate scene. So, I came up with an idea to form a non-profit organisation strictly to promote skateboarding in Uganda, through providing free skate equipment, free skate lessons, building skateparks. However, I didn't have any idea about skatepark construction- but I believed I could learn along the way; that's how our Uganda Skateboard Society came into existence.


Can you tell us a little bit about the Society’s successes so far?

For years, we have relied on individual skate donations- but now skate brands like Funky Flies, Violet Skateboards, adidas Skateboarding, Shortys Skateboards and others have stepped up and have been supporting our local skate scene. Due to skateboarding's inclusion in the Olympics, people in Uganda have begun to take it seriously ever since they discovered that our athletes are in the Olympic Qualifiers for Paris next year, and stand a chance to compete in France- because, seriously: no-one thought that we would ever be a part of the Olympics. Lastly- but not least- our social media numbers have exploded in the shortest period of time- after being recognised by titans of the game like Tony Hawk, Thrasher magazine, as well as other pro skaters. Since social media is the only way we can get attention and skate equipment from our followers, it means that the more people give us attention, the greater the chances are that our skate scene will keep growing.

What difference did Madars Apse’s Skate Tales make to public awareness of what you guys do?

Through Skate Tales, Madars Apse and his producer Gaston Francisco exposed our underground skate scene to the rest of the world. Their mission is to recognise skateboarders and skate scenes which are promoting skateboarding in their communities without access to resources. We have had hundreds of thousands of viewers from our episode on Youtube and add more almost every day from around the world- many of them have begun contacting us to support our skate organisation.

And am I right in saying that you have become the coach of the Ugandan national skateboarding team, too?

As part of our relationship with Uganda Skating Federation, which is recognised by the World Skate and Uganda Olympics Committee, we have been working together for the past eight years; earlier this year,they appointed me as the team Uganda Olympic Skateboarding coach, because of how I have been managing our skate scene for the past decade. They believe that I am qualified to handle this responsibility, and I have tried to deliver my best at all the World Skateboarding Tour stops which we've been part of.

How has your experience of the World Skateboarding Tour been so far?

I think the whole World Skateboarding Tour experience has been life-changing for me. The love and support we receive from these big skaters whom we look up to is so incredible, and everyone is always ready to donate whatever they can so we come back with a large amount of skate donations to keep the kids back home going. The inclusion of our skateboarding team in the World Skateboarding Tour has inspired other African skaters from different African countries, and taught them that anything is possible if you stay committed and persist. We have grown our skateboard scene from the grassroots- and look at where we are today.

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Were you surprised at how many people recognised you at those events? You had a lot of people asking for a photo with you!

Since I've always believed in the power of the internet and social media, I wasn’t surprised that people recognised us on the World Skateboarding Tour…. when I started our organisation, I quickly realised that social media was the best strategy for promoting our skate scene, especially once we got the right audience niche. On our Instagram, we have just surpassed 100,000 followers, on Facebook we have reached 19,000, on Tik-Tok, and Twitter we have reached 25,000… so that's a pretty big fanbase.

What does the future hold for you personally, and the Ugandan Skateboard Society more generally?

My goal is to rob more skate brands and companies to ensure that not only Uganda, but also the entire African continent, is given attention so that they come on board and support our local skate scenes. Moreover, I look forward to building higher-standard skateparks- since the ones we've constructed don't look professional enough. Since most Africans have started taking skateboarding seriously- and besides, we have given them the belief that it can even become a career- I think Africa is going to produce a great deal of professional skaters in the coming years.

The floor is yours: how can people help the Society, and who would you like to thank or big-up?

We are urging brands, skate companies, and individuals to donate skate equipment to our non-profit skate organisation in order to keep our skate scene alive. Additionally, we have skaters who can compete in international skate events- so please reach out and invite us, to any skate event organisers out there. Our website is- !

My special appreciation goes out to Jonah Staab, Derick Dees, Henning Springhorn and all the individuals who have supported our skate scene by sending skate donations for so many years. Much thanks also to our Federation President, Mister Ddungu Moses, for being so supportive- he has been working so hard to make the Olympic dream happen.

Lastly, I’d like to thank myself, Gose Gerald, for being consistent, real and promoting skateboarding in Uganda for the past eighteen years!