David McNamara talks to Matty Dearden, the Creative Director of Rampworx Skatepark in Liverpool and driving force behind some of Europe’s most important competitions including the Chaz Sands Invitational.
Matty Dearden is living proof that it is possible to make a career out of rollerblading. The 22 year old from Liverpool is the Creative Director at Rampworx Skatepark, one of the most respected rollerblading facilities in the world, and constantly striving to get more people into rollerblading and expose the sport to a wider audience.
In order to prove that he was a dedicated member of the team, Matty did everything he could to get involved with the park. “I did lots of work for free to get my foot through the door,” explains the skilled entrepreneur. “Stupid little tasks like taking names for email lists at events, snapping photos and anything else that needed doing. I would be in the office every hour I could. As soon as I finished college, I would head to the office to help out.”
After a few years of paying his dues and completing higher education, Matty went to work for Rampworx full-time. He may have missed out on many of the experiences his friends were having, but his commitment to rollerblading and developing the sport in the UK was relentless. “I never did the big student holiday thing, bumming around for 4 months playing Playstation. As soon as I finished college, I went to work that afternoon.”
In addition to maintaining Rampworx’s reputation as one of the best rolling facilities in the world, Matty is constantly on the lookout for any opportunity to increase exposure for his beloved sport. “We go to colleges to tell kids about Rampworx and hand out free inline coaching vouchers,” says the creative director. We run a lot of outreach projects with schools and youth groups to get kids off the streets and into extreme sports by doing demos, coaching etc.”
With a business sense that betrays his youthful appearance, Matty understands that it is not enough to simply create a great skatepark, you must do everything in your power to ensure that people visit regularly in order to remain profitable. As skateparks all across Europe are closing their doors due to lack of funding, Rampworx is thriving and the 22 year old is happy to explain why. “We are very pro-active in getting young people involved in extreme sports,” states Matty. “You can’t simply sit there with the doors open and expect people to show up and keep you in business.”
Matty was also responsible for bringing B Unique and Co. to the UK and hooking up Rollerblade professional Steve Swain with a sponsorship deal. However, he is the first to admit that it wasn’t the best business agreement. “They don't like to pay bills,” asserts the Liverpool native. “We don't work with each other now.”
In a fragile industry where most of our iconic personalities struggle to make a living, Matty advises that it is not that difficult to establish a career, you simply have to be willing to put in the effort and use your imagination. “You have to want to work,” asserts the 22 year old. “You have to be able to create your own ideas and concepts and get your hands dirty.”
Arguably one of the hardest working members of the UK rollerblading scene, Matty is heavily involved with Dave Bell’s notorious Slamm Jamm event and plays a major part in ensuring the success of the Chaz Sands Invitational.
“I sort everything from riders, videographers, media partners, parties, corporate sponsorship, importing super exclusive skates from China to bailing Soichiro Kanashima out of immigration at one in the morning. We have a great team of staff at Rampworx which allows us to host events like this.”
Very few people are aware that it was also Matty who was responsible for getting the Chaz Sands Invitational featured on the Extreme Channel earlier this year. Due to rollerblading’s lack of popularity in mainstream culture, this was no easy task. “My big ideas was to make a TV show for the event,” states Matty. “The first call I made to pitch the show they told me they don't show rollerblading, so I called them every day until they said yes.” Enlisting the services of videographer extraordinaire Simon Mulvaney and much needed financial support from Rampworx, the show was perfectly executed and exposed to thousands of people across the country.
Despite the fact that Matty has just spent several months of sleepless nights, endless phone calls and unlimited pressures to help organise the highly successful Chaz Sands Invitational, he is not planning on taking a rest any time soon. “The new online shop for Rampworx has just gone live,” explains Matty. “I am working on the Slamm Jamm website and doing some tweaks on the Jenna Downing website. I am also doing some work with the Fenfanix guys from Italy, free Inline clinics for kid’s and a few secret projects as usual.”
When asked about his hopes for the future of his beloved sport, Matty asserts, “I would love to see rollerblading secure a lucrative corporate deal with maximum exposure.” He then adds, “A lot of people are very anti-corporate but when some of your idols are struggling to pay rent, it's fucked up. They deserve to be able to make a good living out of rollerblading.”
Our sport needs more people like Matty Dearden; motivated individuals who are willing to use their creativity and relentless determination to ensure that our sport not only survives, but thrives and proudly displays our achievements to the rest of the world. Look out for Matty’s impressive photography that seems to be popping up in several international publications and expect to see the man anywhere in the world that is hosting a major rollerblading event.
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