Gaza Parkour Traceur Ahmad Matar was recently profiled in Swedish paper The Local. He's one of 7 Swedish personalities interviewed for the weekly segment, and gave us an update on his new life in Sweden after struggling for so long to depart from Gaza.
Its a truly inspiring read that reminded me not to take for granted all the wonderful privileges that we don't even realize are privileges that, that we get to enjoy on a daily bases being practitioners located in New York. As usual we have an excerpt from the article below, followed by the full article link. Enjoy the read.
Matar is in the middle of a parkour event in his new home Gothenburg when The Local calls. It's rare that a day goes by without him training – so high are the demands put on his body.
"You have to keep practicing all the time, otherwise you lose your conditioning. Your body can't pull it off. I’m always training, every day. If I have to stop for two weeks or so because of an injury to my foot for example I'll just do training that doesn't involve my feet. I never stop," he explained.
Parkour has completely transformed the 22-year-old's life. He first discovered the free-running sport back in 2005 and hasn't looked back since.
"I started parkour in 2005 back in Gaza with a team called PK Gaza. We created a small group, training outside in the streets. We didn't have a gym, so we started to develop ourselves by watching videos on the internet and being inspired by them."
The realities of living in Gaza meant an unorthodox approach to learning for the youngsters – there were no teachers to provide tips and certainly no comfortable crash mats to land on. Matar adapted by using the tricky environment to his advantage.
"We were training outside in public places. There's so much rubble there. We wanted to show we could jump over that, over any problem in our life. Over a destroyed building. We made so many videos of us jumping over buildings that had been destroyed, to show that nothing could stop us, parkour has no limits. That was our idea," he recalled.
"With parkour you feel like you're flying, and even in Gaza you forget everything. You're just thinking about parkour: how to do a trick, how to do a jump. I started dreaming about parkour. It took over, it changed my whole life. If there was something bad happening around me I just thought about the jump I wanted to do – it changed my mind and my life."
Even if Matar and his friends couldn't physically leave Gaza, the internet meant they could share their work with the world. Eventually hype started to build:
"We tried to show people through our videos both what we could do, and what was going on in Gaza. How it’s not just war and a bad situation, there's another side and there are people having fun at the same time."
"People started to hear about us through our videos. So we started to get invitations for international workshops, parkour competitions and events. I was invited to come to Sweden several times, and I kept trying but it was really difficult to get a visa," he added.
To finish reading the article and learn more about Ahmad's transition, visit; Ahmad Matar in the Local