KARACHI: Footballs, cute boys in shorts and a bevy of young girls ogling them. The rooftop of the Royal Rodale Club on Saturday night played host to the Red Bull Street Style 2012 Karachi qualifiers – a free style football competition (a variation of rhythmic gymnastics).
As boys bounced and twirled footballs on practically every part of their bodies in splendid choreographed displays, the organisers of the event were seen rushing to get the event started in typical Pakistani style – two hours late.
Despite the delay and multiple microphone malfunctions, the crowd was enthusiastic and the participants were truly excellent. As one performer accurately described it, this was less about football and more about dancing and “expressing yourself”.
Taimoor Rauf, an earlier participant of the competition, began the show with a display of tricks and flips.
A countdown timer of three minutes (which, for several reasons, looped thrice) began the event comprising 32 competitors who faced off in duos for three minutes, using one ball that they passed to the other every 20 seconds.
A jury, comprising Diya Womens’ Football Club (DWFC) founder Sadia Shiekh, the ‘B’ of BZ productions Breakhna Yusuf and former Pakistani football player Zaid Taj, evaluated each freestyler based on style, technique and creativity in combination with music, and shortlisted eight participants for the upcoming national level battle in Lahore. From there, one lucky and talented winner will fly off to Italy to participate in the final against freestylers from more than 60 countries.
Since Pakistanis primarily live, eat and breathe cricket, some attendees had a hard time understanding what the “sporting” event was about.
“We don’t get many events like these around here,” said Emad, a 20 year-old attendee.
“There is a lot of talent in Pakistan, but a real dearth of platforms for highlighting them,” he added.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Ali, a former football player who now works in finance lauded the effort. “It is amazing how talented these youngsters are,” he said.
“It makes me wish there was a platform such as this while I was still playing (football),” he said. “If there were, for all you know, I might have chosen a different career path.”
With fantastic ambiance and one stunning performance after another, the Red Bull Street Style qualifier was a definite success – one that left this reporter and the cheering crowd hopeful of future events in the same vein.
4. Imran bin Imam
5. Abdul Rehman
6. Faddy Kristiano
7. Abdullah Riaz
9. Taimoor Rauf (Wild Card entry)
More in Life & StyleSinging my ultimate dream: Veena Malik