Vernin U’Chong started jumping around at home at an early age – around when he was six or seven. It was only when he watched a documentary on parkour and free running later in life did he realize that what he was doing was an actual sport. After a little research he took his passion to a whole different level. He is the one of the pioneers of parkour and free running in Pakistan and has inspired many youth into the sport. Vernin is also a professional athlete and has taken part in many national and provincial games. In the recent Sindh games in 2012, Vernin took the gold medals in the 100, 200 and 4×100 relay races.
Meanwhile his brother, Neil U’Chong, who also practices parkour, has also been break dancing in Pakistan for many years now and has been teaching it to children from his community for around half a decade. He now teaches at the Body Beat Recreational Centre and trains various people in break dance. Neil is also a graffiti artist, who practices the mantra that it’s not vandalism if someone wants it to be done on their property. He has been appointed to do graffiti for various television commercials and also promotes the activity if it is done legally.
For those who are new to this urban sport, parkour was developed in the 1990’s by David Belle in France. The sport is a training discipline that has been developed out of military obstacle training courses. The point is to move from point A to point B, overcoming all obstacles in between. It is a non-competitive sport and all one needs is a good pair of sneakers and the city is your playground.
Free running on the other hand is described by its creator Sébastien Foucan as “the art of expressing yourself in your environment without limitations: It is the art of movement and action”. Foucan explains that free running developed from parkour when he started making the sport more personal — by adapting it to each person’s strengths and weaknesses.
Both the brothers have done various parkour, free running, break dancing, and graffiti commercials and projects and intend on promoting the sport as much as they can in the city and hopefully the country. - Text by Kurt Menezes