Every day the world faces one of its major problems – the degradation of young people’s value system that results in negative youth communes where inactivity and poor quality of life develops into violence and aggression. School bullies and outsiders is the first signal that something has gone quite wrong in our society and it is about time we do something about it.
Raimonds Elbakjans, commonly known as “Ghetto Daddy”, has always been a “bad boy” and outsider. He was thrown out of every school and commune he attended until he decided to get on his own path and prove himself despite all those who had forecasted him failure in life, and within few years he was running one of the most significant and well known sports and youth organizations “GHETTO GAMES”, that now is attracting more & more visitors every year and even global sports stars.
“It is important to loose sometimes, it makes you reach out for the next – higher level” claims Raimonds, who recently organised and hosted one of the world’s most ambitious slam-dunk contest “Sprite Kings of Air” in Riga, Latvia.
Raimonds was in his early twenties, when he decided to gather few of his closest basketball friends and make his own street-basket championship, as he was not allowed to play in the official ones. It all started at Grīziņkalns – district in Riga (capital of Latvia), at that time a very poor and disrepute place, where they found some old basketball field and held their first street-basketball championship. For the record – now this humble district is completely renovated and has attracted a lot of investors to build the sports “Meka” – “Sports Complex of Grizinkalns” for youngsters of all gender, race and social levels. His best friend Renars Zeltins, who also had to quit professional sport because of his injury, became a host of that first street event in late 2010 and for the moment is one of the best known hosts in Latvia, who has his own TV and radio show.
Those two enthusiastic basketball-loving guys never stopped in their achievements and today they have built their own sports empire “Ghetto Games”, that holds more than 20 tournaments, events and other sports activities during the year, which basically means that more than 50k youngsters are busy spending time properly, which has always been one of Raimonds goals, to keep youth busy with good and meaningful things instead of wandering through courtyards and indulging in bad habits. He also reveals that “Ghetto Games” is like a medicine for untoward districts. Today “Ghetto Games” is the largest street sports and street culture movement in Eastern Europe, which aims to develop people physically and morally. “Ghetto Games” brings together around 12 000 unique players every year and more than 200 000 spectators in their events and activities. “Ghetto Youth” generated content TV reaches millions of viewers on the Internet and the global media environment. No one expected that former school troublemaker to actually move a finger to make this world a better place, but he damn sure did!
Here is what “Ghetto Daddy” is up to this summer – for the fifth year, the biggest sports festival, organized by “Ghetto Family”, will be held in the city of Ventspils where professional action sports athletes from all over the globe will be gathered. Ghetto Games festival (or simply GGFEST) is a youth culture and action sports festival that annually brings together the world’s most notable action sports athletes to the hospitable city of Ventspils. This year GGFEST will bring together more than 1500 participants in 17 different sports from 25 countries. A particularly impressive show can be expected at the BMX Freestyle and Inline skating competitions. Nearly a hundred of modern day top extreme athletes will compete. Guest athletes from USA, Australia and Canada will join Europe’s best. To top it all off – there is no entrance fee for festival visitors!
Words can’t really describe it, so come and join the “Ghetto Games Festival” on 29-31 July in Venstpils, Latvia!