By Chinedu Nwosu
The largest promoter of Freestyle Football in Africa, Feet ‘N’ Tricks International, has launched the maiden edition of the Freestyle Unlocked Africa 2020 championship which is first of its kind on the continent.
Chairman of Feet ‘N’ Tricks International, Valentine Ozigbo in the company’s first vitual press conference held on Zoom on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, revealed that the championship is going to be online and packed with prizes and surprises to “develop and nurture an art, a lifestyle, and a passion for many”.
Freestyle Unlocked Africa 2020 is the fourth installment of the annual football freestyle event.
A respected Nigerian business leader and philantropist, Ozigbo, speaking from Lagos,south west of the country, expressed his passion and commitment to continue to grow freestyle football in Africa. “We will not stop till an African emerges the World Champion, and we host the World Freestyle Football Championships in Nigeria and, who knows, it might even be in my home state of Anambra.”
While noting that the world was going through a difficult time owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ozigbo explained that his passion for the development of the freestyle genre of football spurred him to find a way past the pandemic in order to continue a tradition which had become his passion. He further stated that while most other sports had shut or scaled down, freestyle football could go on very easily in a non-contact manner to respect the physical distancing rules.
The press conference was attended by over 150 participants including leading publishers, journalists, professional freestylers, and sports enthusiasts from across the continent.
Some of the prominent personalities in attendance were a co-founder of the World Freestyle Football Association, Daniel Woods, President of the Nigerian Football Federation(NFF) Amaju Pinnick, Operations Manager for WFFA, Lukas Skoda , a Director of Feet N Tricks, Odyke Nzewi and the founder of Ovation Media Group, Dele Momodu.
Top professional freestylers who joined the event are Titi Kone, who is the reigning African champion, Ayoub Haouas from Tunisia, Ashley Mkhize from South Africa, and Patofs from Madagascar.
Wood, while speaking at the conference, thanked Ozigbo for seeing beyond the despair and helplessness in the world to hope and opportunities using virtual means.
Wood stated that the global lockdown caused a lull in global sporting activities and applauded Ozigbo for his tenacity, as Freestyle Unlocked Africa 2020 was the only freestyle competition holding this year asides the World Freestyle Football Championship which was currently ongoing.
He also expressed his enthusiasm for Freestyle Unlocked Africa 2020 as he saw it as an opportunity to showcase the beauty and talents that are untapped in Africa.
NFF President Pinnick delivered a goodwill message in which he echoed the praises and encouragement of Wood.
The Nigerian football boss wished Feet ‘N’ Tricks the best of luck for Freestyle Unlocked Africa 2020 and pledged support from the country’s football federation.
Ozigbo broke down the mechanics of the contest indicating that it was designed for inclusiveness and would have male and female competitors win daily prizes while freestyle footballers would compete for the US$1000 grand prize. A total of US$6,300 will be given out in cash prizes.
Ozigbo, who is the immediate past President and Chief Executive Officer of Transcorp Plc, called on well-meaning sponsors and sports-lovers alike to seize this chance to push forward a culture that could rally people and foster unity and oneness. Freestyle Unlocked Africa 2020 begins on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 and the grand finale holds on Monday, July 20, 2020.