The sport of Freestyle Football is all about doing special tricks with a football, but it runs much deeper than that. The participants, also known as freestylers, regard it as an art form. It is a self-expression of maneuvering a ball using any part of your body, apart from the area from your elbows to your hands. For a spectator, it is a feast on the eyes. Freestylers often incorporate dance, music and aerobatics with their football tricks. Chinlone, also known as Caneball and played in Burma, and Sepak Tekraw, played in Malaysia, involves incredible skills with a rattan ball played on an area like a volleyball court. The game also goes by different names in various countries in Southeast Asia. Jianzi is another version played with a heavily weighted shuttlecock. These various games have been played for centuries and may have directly influenced the beginnings of football and later freestyle football.
Famous footballers like Diego Maradona and Ronaldinho played a big role in popularizing freestyle football, but there were initially mixed reactions on whether it should be showcased within a football match. The sport did receive a major boost when performed as part of the opening ceremony of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. It also featured at the ceremonies of FIFA’s 1990 and 1994 World Cup tournaments. Today the sport plays an important role in the development of a footballer’s skills and many famous names have credited freestyle football and street football for helping them to their current success. The World Freestyle Football Association (WFFA) is the highest authority and world governing body for the sport. WFFA was founded in 2017 in Ontario, Canada and currently has over 110 members.