There’s a Moroccan proverb that says, “Only when you have broken your bones, do you become a rider.” At least, that’s what Google claims. Nassim didn’t break his foot, but he twisted it so badly on a photo mission for this interview that he came back from the hospital in a cast and on crutches, prematurely ending his collecting photos for this interview. Luckily, though, he had already bagged enough bangers in just a few days. This either means that skaters tick differently than riders or that Nassim had broken enough bones already. The latter is probably more accurate because Nassim skates all day, every day and doesn’t spare himself when it comes to the size of the spots. Another Moroccan proverb says, “Entrust your camel to the omnipotence of God, but tie it tightly to a tree first.” No idea how to relate that to Nassim, so we’d better leave the proverbs be and let Nassim’s friends and family have their say.
From an early age, Nassim had a different character than his brothers. He was very active and interested in games other than the most popular sports in Morocco, namely soccer. He liked to run and jump and after the first time he had the opportunity to try a board at the popular place at Hay Riad (which was later called the White Spot), every Saturday afternoon he hurried to this place. I gave him one condition: to do his exercises and school homework before leaving. One day, I forbade him to leave and he slammed the door. When I ran after him, he yelled at me and left screaming, “Let me go skateboarding!” Since then, every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, I was taking him to this place to skateboard with his comrades coming from other neighborhoods – while everyone else was playing soccer. Once, I was called by the principal of the school and he told me that Nassim brings his skateboard with him and jumps over the school wall to leave and go skating. Little by little, he showed his patience, determination, and love for this sport even though his mother was always worried since she found it dangerous. Now we are proud of him and we wish him great success and a great future.
"Keep skipping class if it’s just for skateboarding"
Unlike my parents, I was never against his favorite sport. Yet, I often defended him and even lied to my parents to protect him. Being young as well, I could very well understand his love for skateboarding. I remember, once, when my parents came to ask me to give him advice on his studies and ask him not to skip class, the first thing he said to me was, “I can’t stay in class, I just want to skate!” My answer was, “So keep skipping class if it’s just for skateboarding.” He is a very emotional person and he never likes to lose. I’ve never seen someone so determined to achieve their dream. He trained very hard every day and spent more time rolling on the skateboard than walking on his feet. I had great confidence in him that he would one day end up becoming a pro. Now he is a source of pride for the family and the whole country. I wish him success, happiness, and love.
The Moroccan skateboarding scene went through a long process of development and progression. Unfortunately, the majority of the first (starting in the ‘90s) and second generation (starting in the early ‘00s like me) stopped because there were no skateparks, and we were always kicked out of the majority of the spots. There was also a lack of support from our families, who did not see a future opportunity or a professional career in skateboarding. In addition, all our attempts to work and collaborate with the state to create spaces where all skateboarders can sharpen their talents failed. We knocked on all doors, but they didn’t open any for us. Nassim comes from the talented third generation, who follow their dreams and put everything into it. Since day one, Nassim has shown a noticeable passion, motivation, and plenty of energy for skateboarding. The constant attendance at the White Spot in Rabat (the only spot we were able to skate back in the days as well) is one of the well-known things about him. Not a day goes by without him learning new tricks.
I remember every time I showed up, he caught my attention. That’s what prompted me to start calling him “The Quicker Picker.” Nassim is the most curious person I’ve ever dealt with. He always has a bunch of questions ready to ask when he sees a new trick in front of him or in video parts or while he has trouble mastering one. I have lots of memories of the time we skated together, but the most memorable one is when I showed him the switch frontside flip trick tip, and he landed it on the fourth try. As a reward, he bought us snacks and my favorite drink (which is Fanta pineapple).
I'm so glad to see Nassim pushing his dream forward and doing the things I dreamed about. However, at the same time, it’s sad to see multiple Moroccan skaters who deserve better opportunities to grow up, develop their skating, and realize their dreams on the ground. There has been a lot of change in the mindset of the authorities and their vision of the future during the past ten years, but we’re still hoping for more engagement by listening to the youth and giving them more attention, especially now that skateboarding is an Olympic sport. Even though I don’t support the idea, the fact still matters to the officials.
I was really into this Olympic thing in the beginning – especially because there are not many Africans or Moroccans in it, and I’m proud of being Moroccan and wanted to represent the country. I was trying to deal with the Moroccan federation, but little by little, they got me more and more disgusted. We didn’t have a federation back then and when the Olympics started, all of a sudden, urban sports associations were founded in every city by guys in suits who had nothing to do with skateboarding. Then they made one federation out of it and the skaters who tried to run stuff as well were kind of forced to join them cause they were the official federation and they knew about the law and had connections to politicians. Then it all started, they contacted me and sold me fake dreams and were telling me that they’d get me a doctor and stuff – stuff they’re obliged to give athletes anyway.
"I told them that I don’t want to have anything to do with them anymore, cause they’re stealing money and don’t do shit for skateboarding"
They just called me to come to Morocco when they needed me to get some more budget, but they fucked me over many times. When I won the Moroccan championship, they gave me 1,000 €, but everywhere in the newspapers and on Instagram, they wrote that I won 6,000 €. I asked them about the missing 5,000 €, but they said that it was just a typo… As I first got in contact with them, they were telling me that there is a 60k budget just for me to prepare for the Olympics, but I’ve never seen a penny from it. The championship was also sponsored by Red Bull, but the federation didn’t hand out a single can. They just kept them and sold them to the stores later on. At some point, we had a meeting and I told them that I don’t want to have anything to do with them anymore, cause they’re stealing money and don’t do shit for skateboarding. I told them that I don’t want them to use my name anymore and then I left. Now I have been sanctioned and can’t compete in any World Skate contests. I never signed any contract with them and they should be the ones to be sanctioned, so I’m like, “Why am I sanctioned?” However, as long as I don’t have to deal with them anymore, fuck it.
I met Nassim when he was in Perpignan to study. I had already heard about him and knew that he was crazy and that once, at the FISE contest in Montpellier, his shoes broke down, so he skated the competition in socks. However, it immediately clicked between us. When I saw him skate for the first time, I was shocked. He did a switch bigspin heel down a heavy three block. That was crazy. It’s very hard to realize how good he is. Even videos are so far from how his skating is in reality.
When I was in Perpignan to skate and didn’t know where to sleep, he suggested I sleep at his place, in his tiny room, although we barely knew each other. He welcomed me like I was a prince, cooked for me, and let me sleep in his own bed while he was sleeping on the floor, saying to me, “Don’t worry khouya, I’m used to sleeping on the floor.” I understood very quickly how generous he is, and over time, I understood that people in Morocco are naturally like this. At the moment, we are actually filming a mixed part with Jordan Stanley and went to Lisbon to film for it. We were very fortunate that Carlos Viegas drove us around almost every day (thanks Carlos, much love) because while Lisbon itself is incredible, it is not made to cruise from spot to spot. Besides filming, we also just wanted to travel together and drink some Super Bock with Mr. Ponsero, who is never the last to pay for a round of drinks. Finally, I can say that since we first met, we’ve never given up on each other. We always try to skate together in different places, and I even had the chance to meet his family when I went to Morocco.
We were in Lisbon where we shot the kickflip nosegrind for the interview and the frontside flip over the hubba that is the ad for Reell. We went on this last-minute mission, and when Nassim arrived, he could barely walk. His feet resembled those of a hobbit. Nonetheless, on the first day he jumped over this big hubba – not the small one everybody skates – with a frontside flip for at least one and a half hours. He did the flip frontside nosegrind as well – and that’s just normal for him. He can wake up, barely able to walk, but when we go to the warm-up plaza, he skates for hours and films the gnarliest lines – just for Instagram. He finds them too shitty for his part and although he can’t really walk, he does them anyway, just for the fun of it. He simply can’t stop skating.
Some time ago, a Moroccan bocadillo store, called Tetuan, opened near MACBA, and Nassim quickly made friends with the owners. When I came in one day, he sat there and had just given them a board to write the price of a special offer for skaters, which Nassim had set up. He introduced me to the owner of the store, who said that he wanted to make a skate video and have a premiere in his store. Nassim then filmed the video with a few other guys at MACBA, and at the premiere, all of MACBA was represented there and all skaters could eat for free, sat at a big table, and were supplied with snacks, bocadillos, and tea. Nassim is a super helpful guy and has, of course, immediately tried to help out his compatriots. The dudes were also super cool, but unfortunately, they had to close their store at some point. However, Nassim always makes an effort and did some gnarly tricks for the edit although it was only shown in the sandwich store.
"During the first lockdown, we skated on our roof cause it was forbidden outside"
I learned about Nassim when he came to Badalona for a competition with some friends from Perpignan. They slept at my house, and since then, step by step we developed a very good friendship. At some point, he even came to live with me and is now, like, my little brother. He is one of the most generous, positive, and motivated human beings you can find and already very mature for his age. He skates really hard and does things at 200%. He’s also really gifted at many other things besides skateboarding. He’s a talented cook, for example. Overall, it’s been awesome since he moved into the house. We motivate and help each other like brothers do. I also met his family, and they’re just amazing. He knows that he wouldn’t be where he is without his parents, so he tries to give back. Besides that, he’s an even bigger skate addict than I am. He’s shaking after a few days of not skating. During the first lockdown, we skated on our roof cause it was forbidden outside. We put benches and stuff up there, so we had a different spot every time we went. Afterward, we had to repair the roof… Nassim is the truest dude on a board and has so much passion for skating. If you could measure it, he’d be one of the most passionate skateboarders in the world for sure. He’s truly special. There are not many like him. Nassim is living his dream, and I’m right here seeing it happening.
I met Nassim at the local skatepark in Perpignan in 2017. He had just arrived from Morocco to study in France. At this time, I was making round trips between Paris, where V7 is located [French skate distribution], and my hometown, where my family and kids are. You can imagine how surprised we were, looking at a 17-year-old kid with banging tricks, coming out of nowhere. The first two years here in Perpignan, we tried to get him to step up with V7, and linked him with brands we distribute. His first sponsors, which were the choice of the distribution, were eventually the same that made him pro. We put Nassim on Blind because we had a budget available for a kid at this point. We didn’t think he would become the next pro! With etnies, it was kind of the same story. In 2018, we produced a Blind AM part, and then things sped up. The same summer, we did an etnies tour in Spain and the South of France. Nassim met Joslin there and spent ten days with the whole crew. It was his first official skate trip. He was skating Tensor trucks at that point and needed three pairs of trucks during the trip cause he broke them on each set he was jumping down… Joslin was making fun of his setup all day long and finally gave him a pair of Independent. We then put him on Independent, OJ Wheels, and Bronson through the distribution – and the same thing happened again: they became fans of him. Indy and recently OJ produced an Insta part and gave him the best pro surprise during the Indy tour last September in Paris, which I managed. It cost Nassim four years to become one of the most talented skateboarders and the first African pro, which is a huge honor for me. He always says, we did it together, but I’m pretty sure he could’ve done it alone as well. He has such an awesome style and a strong motivation that makes him one of the best human beings I know! Big love, my brother!