By KEVIN TAN
WHEN four passionate Malaysian freestyle footballers heard about the Vietnam Freestyle Football Championships (VFFC), which happened in May. they saw an opportunity and signed up right away.
Organised by Asian Freestyle Football Federation (AF3), the VFFC is an open competition for freestylers all across Asia.
Airi Azni, 17, Ariff Karim, 21, Saw Cheng Pheng, 23, and Mohd Afif Hafidzy, 23, were evidently excited when they spoke about their experiences at the competition.
“We really got to experience how freestyle football is like in another country and meet the athletes there. They were very impressive,” said Ariff.
“We learned new tricks from the athletes there, and now we know the real way of competing in an official competition like the VFFC,” said the youngest among the four, who has been practising the sport for only two years now.
However, it wasn’t as simple as just signing up and competing. As most of them were still studying, joining the competition meant having to pay for their own flight ticket and other expenses in Vietnam.
For Ariff, he had to look for part-time jobs while studying to raise enough to money to buy his flight casino online ticket. “I helped my friend sell biscuits and also worked a part-time retail job. Thankfully, my parents helped me out a bit as well.”
Saw on the other hand used a portion of his savings for the trip but eventually realised that it was worth every cent. Afif, who is also working to support his Master’s studies, also used his savings to pay for the trip.
“On top of the experience we gained from the competition, we also got to experience the culture there as well,” said Saw.
“I want to try and compete to test my limits and see how far I can go,” Afif revealed.
Competing against 50 participants, Airi placed in the top 18.
“Although Airi may be the youngest among us, he learns and improves really fast,” said Ariff, who has been practising freestyle football for seven years.
The players practise about two to three hours a day, and meet up at least once a month.
“Freestyle football is very different from other sports because you can express yourself in any way you want. You can use your imagination come up with new tricks, and you don’t have to depend on other people to practise or learn,” said Saw.
“It’s never a routine, because you can always come up with something different,” Airi said.