Three minutes, two players, one ball – energetic youngsters from across the city conquered the stage with their enthralling football skills on Friday evening.
The Red Bull Street Style 2012, a freestyle football tournament, was held at Monal Restaurant with a simple objective: to give young people a platform to show off their talent.
Following a gruelling three-round match, freestylers Shehryar Zahid and Zaid Bin Sohail went head to head for a tantalising three minutes before Zahid emerged as the winner in the final round.
The enthusiastic youngster said he got his inspiration watching legendary football player Ronaldo’s videos on YouTube. The runner-up also took up freestyle football watching YouTube clips.
Apart from inspiration, mastering freestyle football is an uphill task in itself and requires a lot of commitment and dedication. Sohail explained that he practiced three to four hours a day, while Zahid also said he hasn’t always been good with the ball.
The jury was divided in three categories; style, control and variety, with Awais Shahid (Shaggy), Salman Jan and Ahmed Mavia in charge of each category.
Zahid won the majority vote and was declared the winner. However, the decision was not a unanimous one as Shahid voted for the runner-up. According to him, Sohail’s tricks were more fun and incorporated humour.
The jurists weren’t strangers to street style and football either. Shahid is one of a three-part break dance crew “Synergy”, while Jan is a veteran football freestyle artist who has been a part of Red Bull events since 2010. Mavia has also been a seasoned football athlete since a decade.
The event featured a performance by Islamabad-based rapper Adil Omar and a break dance performance by Synergy, which broke the prevailing tension due to the intense competition between participants.
Usually performing at concerts and school events, the crew also seemed to be pleased to perform outdoors as break dance is intended to be.
“I didn’t expect this to be such a well-organised event with such a good turnover; I look forward to more events like these,” said Shahid.
The crew also joined Omar during his last two songs, displaying the inherent bond between rap music and break dance.
“It’s great to see enthusiasts of any kind in Pakistan, especially for something positive,” said Omar.
The national final for the championship will be held in Lahore on July 15, where participants from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad will battle against each other to win the title of “National Champion”. The champion will then head to Italy in September to compete with freestylers from all over the world.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2012.