Usman Tareen is just an A-level student but tomorrow he leaves for Italy where he will be Pakistan’s sole representative in the Street Style World Finals, earning his right to be there after beating participants from all over the country.
Freestyle football is a unique sport that has started gaining popularity in Pakistan over the past couple of years. The competition saw participants from places like Peshawar and Quetta flying in for the qualifiers that took place in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. While Tareen acknowledged that it was very difficult for players from Pakistan to match international levels, he was happy just to be there.
“It’s the proudest moment of my life; a dream come true for me,” Tareen told The Express Tribune. “Now that I have a chance, I am going to give it my all and make sure I do well for my country. We have a community of freestylers and we get together to practice and compete. But because of our studies and parental pressure, we are not able to practice regularly. Freestyling is an art that requires hours and hours of practice to perfect and this is something we can’t do because of our academic commitments.”
The 18-year-old started freestyling after watching Cristiano Ronaldo’s videos.
“Ronaldo’s the reason behind me taking up freestyling. I used to watch him perform for hours and then tried to repeat the amazing things he did.”
Inspiration was the easiest step, the road to Italy was the hardest. Tareen cited lack of support from local clubs and organisations and how his parents oppose his dream of becoming a freestyler.
“Pakistani parents want their kids to become engineers and doctors only. Anything different is not considered a career option at all. Like others, even my parents want me to become an engineer or a doctor. Freestyling for me, unfortunately, is not an option.”
Despite the obstacles, Tareen is upbeat about his chances and is confident of making an impression in the September 20-22 event which will see 80 participants from all over the world.
“In the end, I’d like to tell all freestylers here in Pakistan not to give up on their dreams. There will be difficulties but the important thing is to follow your dreams.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 15th, 2012.