Making the city their playground

Parkour feature
Parkour feature

BOUNCING off boulders and holding handstands on bins, these youngsters look for all the world like circus acrobats.

But in fact they are moving around the city by running up walls, doing backflips off buildings and using any and every structure as tools rather than an obstacles.

The concept is called Parkour - a movement that started in France, spread across the world and is now growing in popularity in Sheffield.

Tom Cottam, who helped set up the Sheffield Parkour Movement with four friends a year ago, is now in talks with Sheffield Council about creating custom apparatus in the city to provide somewhere for them to train.

He believes there are about 100 people following the ‘philosophy’ across the city.

The 19-year-old, from Walkley, said: “With Parkour the whole world is your playground, if you see a wall, why not jump off it?

“It’s a physical act but also a way of life. You use it as a way of mentally and physically conditioning yourself to be able to overcome obstacles and problems in life.

“It is a metaphor.”

People who practice Parkour – known as traceurs – can be seen practising at city hotspots including the Sheffield Hallam University campus and Odeon cinema.

And they say they are often judged unfairly as troublemakers because they gather in groups at public places, despite taking care not to cause damage.

The movement is liaising with Sheffield Council about creating a designated Parkour area in Endcliffe Park to provide somewhere for traceurs from across the region after a campaign attracted 1,000 signatures.

Tom, a student at Norton College, added: “People have been really buzzing about it because there’s nothing like it around here.

“The nearest is probably Hull. We expect people to come over from Leeds, Doncaster, Barnsley and the surrounding areas to use it.

“It should be really good for Sheffield.”

Traceurs also believe Parkour can keep youngsters out of trouble by giving them something to focus on and meet friends.

Movement member Lorien Biet, 19, said as members of the public became more aware of Parkour, there was less criticism from the public.

“People usually stop to watch us and ask us what we’re doing.

“When we explain, people are usually really interested and encouraging.”