On a cold day while walking along the streets, I stumbled a couple of kids doing silky tricks while juggling with the ball. To my amazed, they can do tricks in different combinations or what they called as combo and link among themselves. The soccer tricks intrigued me that I began practicing a few of them, well at least one of them. So then I walked along the park to watch guys playing a nice friendly game on a cold hard rainy afternoon. Some of them particularly in the midfield outmaneuver the defenders with silky skills that left the defenders puzzled. Cool soccer tricks and skills. On my way back, I watched some videos on Youtube, usually I received a link from my friend via email and immediately I watched the video link and thought, ” The guy’s insane to pull off those tricks!”. I researched on these guys and found out that they’re definitely freestylers.
Cool and silky tricks in different combinations during juggling or dribbling are what freestyle soccer is all about. A new trend and relatively new to the world of soccer. It’s addictive and mouth-watering to watch that most people perceived freestyle as a hobby rather than a professional activity. Freestylers typically practice their soccer tricks and work on their combinations to showcase their skills to their friends and the world itself. Silky tricks and skills are recorded and edited to the video including slow motion and credits in order to upload to the streaming sites like Youtube. Freestylers even go one step ahead by performing in competitions and performances like advertisements and documentaries.
A couple of well-knowned freestylers like Billy Wingrove, Abbas Farid, Soufiane Touzani and Palle perform in competition and some of them even releases their very own DVD to teach the newbies in freestyle soccer. Other forms of soccer like beach soccer and five-a-side futsal have flourished in the last 10 years. So, can freestyler soccer follow the same footsteps to grow as a sport? I believe that freestyle soccer has the hidden potential that’s yet to be harnessed. Unless these potential actions are taken, freestyle soccer is prone to dullness. 5 factors that could impact on the world of freestyle soccer:
1. Making it a “Big” hit
Performing irresistible silky and cool soccer tricks in front of the audience on a live performance raise freestylers’ reputation and recognition worldwide. Profit-making companies play a huge role in promoting these outstanding individuals to a world stage like for instance, Nike in promoting top dog superstars such as Billy Wingrove and Abbas Farid. These freestylers often featured in Nike commercials along with soccer superstars like Ronaldinho, Edgar Davids, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Television programmes play a crucial role in promoting freestylers by broadcasting informative documentaries about their lifestyle for example, the BBC Match of the Day program featured a special section about Billy Wingrove and his lifestyle as a freestyler.
2. Engage freestyler with the club via a contract
A boring plain piece of paper that includes all the nitty gritty information on engagement between a freestyler and the club in order to validate their relationship for an agreed number of years. Freestyler’s role are explained in the contract including their wages, privileges with the club like access to the club’s stadium and training ground and travel with the club.
Billy Wingrove, a British freestyler, is contracted to his childhood club, Tottenham Hotspur which gives him the privileges to watch Tottenham’s matches at White Hart Lane, access to their training ground and meeting top players like Aaron Lennon.
3. Train and Travel with the Club
Under a contract, freestylers have the access to the club’s training ground to participate in five-a-side matches with the first team or even teach them some new soccer tricks to the players as Billy Wingrove did with Tottenham Hotspurs.
By training, freestylers have the privilege to travel with the club for away matches or continental championship like the Champions League. This allows them maximum exposure on different lifestyle and cultures on soccer and other things.
4. Coaching the Players
Freestylers have the option to coach whether on a part time basis or on a full time basis.
On a part time basis, a freestyler teaches soccer tricks to the players of the club as Billy Wingrove did with a former Tottenham player, Robbie Keane.
The fun begins in a full time basis. A freestyler coaches the players about freestyler soccer that’s integrated to the club’s training regime. He could influence on coaching decisions on their training regime like improving the team’s ball control and also travel with the club on away matches as well as watching home matches to monitor the team’s progress.
5. Half time Shows and Team Mascot
It’s a rarity in the world of soccer but more common in American sports like the NBA and NFL. But, half time shows evolved in the world of soccer quite recently thus an opportunity for freestylers to shine on the soccer pitch.
Maradona first did half time shows during his days at Boca Juniors. Similarly, Billy Wingrove did the same for the Premiership pre-match entertainment and for international friendlies involving England and Wales.
Freestylers also act as a mascot for the team to welcome new signings or as a pre-match entertainment. Recently, Abbas Farid and his friend did a pre-match entertainment about freestyle with Ronaldinho. The fact that Ronaldinho stares the whole time and giving ovation to those freestylers was a hilarious moment. So, I could conclude that freestylers are related but completely different to soccer.
There’s no doubt that a breathtaking sport embeds into freestyle soccer and the governing body, FIFA should harness to its full potential. An addictive hobby that can earn freestylers a lot of money for their uniqueness in producing exceptional combinations and awesome tricks that should be rewarded and why not. I believe that freestyle can rise to be as good as soccer if these factors or others are put into practice.