Laser Focus: 14-year-old Cape Town skateboarding talent Marci Rodrigues
Supported by an old school Pretoria ripper dad Lingo – and oozing style and a confidence beyond his years – Kommetjie’s Marcelino ‘Marci’ Rodrigues looks destined for big things in SA skateboarding.
Interviews by bluntEd. Photos by Moe Abrahams and bluntEd.
blunt recently spent the afternoon with Marci and Lingo. It was Marci’s first street skating photo shoot for a skate media channel, so he killed the nerves with a few tricks at Battery Park.
Marci began by sticking a kickflip frontside boardslide (for the first time ever, third try) on the short rail, a kickflip to fakie on the big quarter pipe and a backside lip slide on the long rail.
Coached basically from the crib by his dad, Marci shows poise and patience belying his years. Marci still mostly skates parks, but Lingo is proper old school and believes that park shots are kind of cheating. We all agreed we had to get at least one street shot for Marci’s blunt debut.
Warmed up, Marci was down, so later we hit a rail gap in Sea Point, after some encouragement from Lingo and skate photographer Moe, he landed a solid ollie and frontside 180.
Besides his dad, Marci is also mentored by Thalente Biyela. Marci won the juniors at KDC earlier this year and was the youngest ever final qualifier at Ultimate X. Once he builds a bit of strength in those gangly legs of his, he is a solid bet to become one of the next wave of talented South Africa skateboarders to kill it locally and take on the scene overseas.
We wish Marci and Lingo the best of luck. After the skate session we sat down and grilled the father / son combo about Marci’s rise in the SA skate scene and what their ambitions are for the future.
Full name: Marcelino Rodrigues
Sponsors: Baseline Skateshop, Dope Industries
With a dad as an OG Pretoria skateboarder, what are your first memories of skateboarding?
Rolling down the driveway on my butt, and first trips to Thrashers Skatepark.
When did you start skateboarding properly and when did you realise you might get good at it?
I’ve always had a skateboard. When I was a baby I’d push around on it but I only saw I could be good at it when we moved to Cape Town.
What did it feel like to win the juniors at KDC, did you think you might have a chance?
It felt super good to win it. It was my first big contest. I knew I had a chance to win it because KDC had two comps in Somerset West and at Battery and I had won both of those and most of the same kids were at those comps. My dad and I figured out some cool runs and we timed it.
Were you nervous during your runs and how did you deal with that?
No. I was super calm and focused. I like an open course.
“It felt super good to win KDC. It was my first big contest. I knew I had a chance to win it because KDC had two comps in Somerset West and at Battery. My dad and I figured out some cool runs and we timed it. I was super calm and focused. I like an open course.”
How much inspiration and support has your dad provided you in your skateboarding journey?
He’s taught me most of the tricks I can do and supported me all the way. There’s two skate rats in the house now.
Does your dad offer advice on your skating or let you get on with it? Is it ever hard to have him as your dad and ‘skate coach’ – like maybe when you are in trouble for something?
Yes, he helps a lot. He always tells me to grab tuck knee and work on my nollies. It’s great to have him as a coach and dad.
Who else do you look up to and take inspiration from, both in South African skateboarding and internationally?
The people I look up to in South Africa are Khule Ngubane and Thalente Biyela. The international people I look up to are Shane O’Neill, Ishod Wair and Alex Midler.
What about friends / fellow skaters – who do you session most with and who pushes you to skate better when you are skating?
I skate most with my friend Matt Le Roux at the park In Kommetjie. It is so much more fun skating with friends. But skating with Thalente is the best. I learn a lot from T.
“My dad helps me a lot. He always tells me to grab tuck knee and work on my nollies. It’s great to have him as a coach and dad. The people I look up to in South Africa are Khule [Nugbane] and Thalente [Biyela].”
You were skating quite well for a few years and then suddenly got very good. Do you think having a park at Generation School helped you with that?
Yes it definitely did. I used to skate it every day. The park is clean. Built by The Shred guys.
What are your other favourite places to skate, both parks/ramps and street spots, and why?
My favourite skate parks are Battery, The Shred and Gardens. They are just fun. I tried the Sea Point rail and almost got a front board slide. The run up surface is not great.
What tricks have you got down lately? Are you working on anything new?
I get something new all the time, but the trick I got lately is a bs smith down rails and I’m working on flip bs lip slides on rails.
Do you have any other interests besides skating (e.g. art, music, surfing etc)? How do these fit into your skateboarding lifestyle?
I don’t really have any other interests but skateboarding.
Where do you hope to take your skateboarding? What are your future goals, do you want to turn pro? What do you think you need to do to get to that level?
I would love to turn pro and I think to take it to that level I need to go the contests overseas and go to America.
Tell us a funny story about yourself (can involve your dad or your friends)?
Some people think I’m a girl when they see my clips, or when we are at contests, the taxi driver would ask: ‘oh is she skating in the competition’. We’d always go along with it, and tell them how cool the support for female skating has become. It’s so funny.
“Some people think I’m a girl when they see my clips, or when we are at contests, the taxi driver would ask: ‘oh is she skating in the competition’. We’d always go along with it, and tell them how cool the support for female skating has become. It’s so funny.”
Lingo (Skate Dad) Q&A
Did you ever expect Marci to get good at skating? When did you realise he might be good enough to compete nationally?
It was inevitable. Environmental factors influence traits. I really pushed the experiment. I have produced what is now known as the super skater. Honestly, I think, the first time I became aware of this ability, was when he smoked us in MarioCart. Young Marci has that aggressive laser focus when It comes to competition.
How did you feel when he won KDC?
Tears and financial gains are a beautiful thing, But, it also validated my coaching performance. Also we were concerned that we couldn’t get the giant podium cheque onto the plane.
Do you see yourself in his style and approach to skating?
Absolutely, But he is just way better. There’s definitely room for improvement. You could always put more tweak in the flap. We did go through a dark period when Marci pushed mongo. I explained to him that it’s just not practical and that it would bite him later. Switch mongo on the other hand, is acceptable.
How do you balance being his dad with his coach / main supporter?
Being a Pro Dad is tough. It’s true, parent coaches get a bad rap, but I believe that If a child is engaged in elite competition, systematic training is everything. I don’t shout at him in front of other skaters anymore.
Would you like him / push to turn pro or would you rather he makes his own decisions and do what makes him happy?
Marci’s having such a good time with this skate life. The pro missions support will be strong.
Tell us a funny story about Marci?
At school, the headmaster called Marci up to the office. They were fed up with him skateboarding during school time. They told Marci that they have him on surveillance camera, and that he’s getting a respect reminder. Marci told them that he didn’t have someone to film a killer line, and asked if they could send him the footage for his Instagram page.
Follow Marci on Instagram
Check out the YouTube video from the main shoot day and more in the full photo gallery below: