Football Freestyling in Nepal

Written by Sudeep Bhatt | Photos by Bibek Puri

Today, everything can be adopted for self-expression, and freestyle football has become a sport for some to express themselves.

In most parts of the world, freestyle football has existed since the early 1900s, but in Nepal, it was attempted quite later. It is not that Nepalese footballers and football fanatics had never tried football freestyling, but doing it flawlessly had always been a room for improvement. However, we recently caught three football freestylers, and watching them doing the tricks with their footballs made us believe that Nepal’s got talent.

It was amazing to see the 18-year-old Umeid Barma perfectly kicking the ball up with one foot and circling the other around the ball. The football freestyler’s skills in juggling with the balls using feet, lower legs, knees, chest, shoulders and head were worth watching.

The 16-year-old Reewaz Thakuri and 18-year-old Ruben Shrestha were equally talented. While Thakuri played the ball off of one foot and the foot circled up and over the ball before returning underneath to play the ball again, Shrestha kicked the ball into the air by his trail leg and his other leg went around the ball. Watching them repeatedly kicking the cluster with one foot and circling the other around the ball was engaging and exciting.

Talking with WAVE, Barma briefed about his three-year-long practice period and said, “I started performing freestyle tricks in 2013 after watching a YouTube video. Trying to hone my skills and performing was very hard, but I remained adamant at heart to learn the skills and stun all individuals,” adding, “I’ve been drawing inspiration from freestyle  footballer Kamailo and Andrew Henderson.”

Shrestha and Thakuri had found themselves inspired from Barma two years ago, and the duo followed Barma’s strides with excitement and eagerness. Eventually, they strengthened their companionship. Today they are being bolstered and enlivened by each other to practice freestyling and learn new tricks.

In freestyle football, few abilities and tricks can be unimaginably bad-to-the-bone hazardous to perform because acquiring excellence in free-form is something beyond accomplishment. There had been numerous occurrences when they had sustained wounds while rehearsing tricks.
Despite this, they’re incessantly running after perfection.

In Nepal, many factors are preventing freestyle footballers to grow; wellspring of funds for remuneration and subsidised facilities being major ones. The players need to self-fund for their extras as there
are no any backers behind them. While big companies like Adidas, Nike, Puma and others support freestyle footballers around the world, the companies do not have major attention in Nepal. Besides, sports authorities and sports businesses have not developed a liking to put their resources in sports like these.

Barma says, “Even after watching us performing in videos, officials at ANFA (All Nepal Football Association) do not believe in the length of our aptitude. Besides, there have been instances when police personnel have stopped and prohibited us from performing and practicing.”

Unlike yesteryears, freestyle football is not confined in the streets of Nepal; instead, it has advanced into a next stage. Global College of Management had organised a challenge during their fiesta to encourage youths to develop their skills in the sport. In the competition, eight freestyle footballers had participated, and Barma had stood first, while Ruben Shrestha had secured the position of first runner-up.

Now, Nishant Rana, a 22-year-old founder of Nepal Football Freestyle Association (NFFA), has made an arrangement to put resources in the sport as Rana is preparing to organise a competition where participants will be judged by experts coming from Vietnam. Besides, the association has begun their work to obtain broadcasting sponsorship from DISH Home and AP1 HD. Moreover, the association has plans to exhibit freestyle football at Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu.

As freestyle footballers and concerned association are doing their best to exhibit freestyle football in Nepal, we, as football lovers, are always eager to see football freestylers expressing themselves with their freestyle football tricks.

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