Freestyle Soccer, is the art of self-expression with a football, while performing various tricks with any part of the body. Similar in style to keepie uppie, kemari and the ball discipline of rhythmic gymnastics, it has become a widespread sport across the world and is practised by many people.
Freestyle football has existed since the early 1900s, but it has seen a surge in popularity as a result of global advertising campaigns and digital media sharing. In the early 21st century, Nike began an advertising campaign which relied heavily on the freestyle form of football, including video clips of freestyle performances. The videos are called Joga Bonito which means “Play Beautiful.” These advertisements featured famous players such as Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Edgar Davids. Many link such mass media attention to the start of the freestyle craze. In the YouTube era, however, many previously non-famous players have risen to prominence, and internet searches easily yield thousands of videos by amateur “freestylers” around the world.
Some of the more notable freestylers include: Hee Young Woo (Mr. Woo) of South Korea, Pawel Skora (Polish), Michal Rycaj (Polish), Beto (Mexican), Azun (Norwegian),Palle (Swedish), Reynoldz (Irish), Victor Rubilar,Kamalio. Four time Guinness World Record Holder and John Farnworth, who appeared in Britain’s Got Talent in 2009. Also in the same year of Britain’s Got Talent (series 3) Uefa Training Grounds skill experts Woody & Kleiny were the first freestyle double act to ever hit the programmes screens and the duo were branded by Simon Cowell as the Anty & Decky of football juggling. Moreover, men are not the only ones capable of training this sports discipline. Since it started spreading all over the world more and more women have been taking up freestyle football. Some of the most notable women in the sport are current World Champion Kitti Szász (Hungarian) as well as runner up Mélody Donchet and North American non-competitive but high level freestyler Indi Cowie.
Freestyle has also become very popular in South America, with countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Chile forming freestyle crews of dozens or even hundreds of freestylers, some of the most important Latin Freestylers are Charly Iacono who got to the Semi finals of Talento Argentino, an Argentinian talent show, and Cristian “Rocky” Mayorga who came third in the South Africa 2010 Red Bull Street Style world finals.
Shortly after the Joga Bonito advertising campaign Nike launched a freestyle football competition on the internet “Nike Football” in which participants could submit their own clips and receive feedback from a worldwide audience.
In December 2006 the “Masters of The Game” competition, held in Amsterdam and was won by Hassan Muxudin Ali. Nutmeg or Panna and other street football competitions have been held featuring street football players such as Edward Van Gils ‘Edje’, Issy Hitman, and Jermaine Vanenburg ‘Vaantje’.
In 2007 there was a competition in Latin America called Red Bull Reaccion.
Also in 2007 Redbull futbol de calle was held in NYC’s Webster Hall.
The French Arnaud “Séan” Garnier is the first world champion of Red Bull Street Style Soccer. The final of the Red Bull Street Style competition was held in Brazil In November 2008. Arnaud Garnier “Séan” beat out the other 42 competitors to win the competition.
The 2010 Red Bull street style was held in Cape Town South Africa April 24–28. The winner was Anders “Azun” Solum from Norway, who beat Kamalio Ranchod from South Africa in the final. The latest one was held in Italy where Kotaro Tokuda from Japan came first, and Daniel Dennehy from Ireland finished second.