The largest promoter of Freestyle Football in Africa, Feet ‘N’ Tricks International, has unveiled the maiden edition of the Freestyle UNLOCKED Africa 2020 championship which is first of its kind on the continent.
Valentine Ozigbo, the Chairman of Feet ‘N’ Tricks International, in the company’s first virtual 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 instalment of the annual football freestyle event.
A respected Nigerian business leader and philanthropist, Mr. Ozigbo, speaking from Lagos, 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, Mr. 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 can 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 Daniel Woods, a co-founder of the World Freestyle Football Association, Amaju Pinnick, Nigeria’s top football administrator, Lukas Skoda, Operations Manager for WFFA, Odyke Nzewi, a Director of Feet n Tricks, and Dele Momodu, the founder of Ovation Media Group.
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.
Daniel 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 Mr. Ozigbo for his tenacity, as Freestyle Unlocked Africa 2020 is the only freestyle competition holding this year asides the World Freestyle Football Championship which is 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.
Amaju Pinnick, the President of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), delivered a goodwill message in which he echoed the praises and encouragement of Mr. 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.
Mr. Ozigbo broke down the mechanics of the contest indicating that it is designed for inclusiveness and will have male and female competitors win daily prizes while freestyle footballers would compete for the $1000 grand prize. A total of $6,300 will be given out in cash prizes.
Valentine 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 can 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.