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Dance like a footballer

Meet Séan Garnier, the man who introduced break dance to football. He is currently in Mumbai to judge a freestyle competition, and to also introduce Mumbaikars to freestyle football

If you think the ongoing FIFA World Cup is where all the football action is, think again. A long-haired Frenchman, sporting a chin-curtain type beard has caught the imagination of Mumbai’s unsuspecting pedestrians with a football. The man who introduced break dancing to freestyle football, Séan Garnier, is now in the city to share his freestyle skills to strangers on the street. Known for his highly immersive videos, where he engages people on the street with his freestyle football tricks, Garnier is here to kick start another edition of what he calls, “making people smile.” He will also be judging the Red Bull Street Style 2014 National Finals that will be held today.

Around the world with a football
“We have been shooting at different locations with different people. The idea is to take football to the people and attract them towards the sport,” he says. A few days back, the World Freestyle Champion, hustled a couple of kids in Mexico, dressed as an old man. They didn’t know what they were dealing with, until he frustrated them with his amazing control on the ball. Recently, Garnier also shot a video in China, interacting with people on the street. He says that freestyle brings lot of aspects together — music, training, socialising and fitness — reason why he always seems to be interacting with strangers, showing them his tricks. “One of the ways to develop freestyle football is to do these little things. People like Neymar, Maradona or Ronaldinho so much because they do these tricks on the pitch. This is my way to contribute to freestyle. I travel extensively throughout the year, and everywhere, I make people smile with my tricks. I want to touch people, and hope that some of them start doing it as well,” he confides.

Freestyle as a saviour
Before Garnier became a freestyle footballer, he was a first division football player in France, keen to enter professional football. But an injury kept him out. Garnier wasn’t ready to give up. So, he combined his love for football and break dance, and set to impress people on the stage. “It was a part of life, when you don’t know what you are doing. Freestyle helped me forget the mistakes. It helped me come back. I started training with people, learning new tricks. And in 2008, I became the first Red Bull Street Style Champion,” he shares.

On: Today, 6 pm onwards
At: High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel (E).

Garnier says

Freestyle impresses people: 
“People ask me how did I do it. I didn’t do anything by myself. A lot of people helped me train. But the most important freestyle is finding ways to communicate with the audience. Freestyle is all about impressing people. Besides, you have to understand that the ball is very famous. Everyone wants to shoot it.”

On France and football:
“Unlike the rest of the Europe, the French are selfish football fans. We are crazy about football when we win, but we forget about it when we lose. I see it as a sport that brings people together to share ideas.”

Even Maradona can’t beat freestylers: “Freestyle footballers can easily beat professional footballers in a freestyle tournament. Freestyle football has advanced a lot in the last few years. It’s beautiful to watch someone like Maradona or Ronaldinho do it, but they won’t last in a freestyle tournament. The standards are very high. It’s like singles and doubles in tennis — both are different.”

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