Up, down, and everywhere in between
For the first time in Egypt, a football juggling championship was held to choose Egypt's representative in the World Championship. Ahmed Morsy reports from Porto Marina
Egyptian football free style juggling astounded spectators on Friday in the North Coast, in Porto Marina, in the 2009 Red Bull Street Style while battling head to head for the national title. Hundreds of spectators watched the brand new sport for the first time.
"It's the first time I watch this kind of sport in Egypt," said Mohamed Radwan, 25, who was in the audience to watch the event performed on a makeshift stage on the street.
"It's a very lively sport which not anyone can do. I think it needs a lot of training to do like the contestants."
Red Bull Street Style is a football competition held in more than 50 countries around the world. Competitors are judged in technical skills, ball control and creativity to music.
The competition includes two players at a time performing against each other in a three- minute session. Each player juggles the ball for a 20-second segment in a designated seven--metre area before giving it to his rival.
The sixth and final round, which took place in Porto Marina was the last qualifying hurdle. The winner advanced to the Red Bull Street Style 2010 in South Africa representing Egypt.
The final round started with a raffle to divide players into 16 teams. The winners qualified to the quarter-finals, then the semi-finals with two teams of four players, then the final with a team of two players. All contestants were Egyptian.
Youssef Ayman Mohamed, 19, dazzled the judging panel, beating Ahmed Magdi to the ticket to Cape Town in South Africa next year.
Mohamed, Egypt's number one street styler, has been playing for two years. "I was training in the street, the club and anywhere else since this sport doesn't need a specific place to practice. I don't listen to the music while training although it is essential to stick to the rhythm while performing," Mohamed told Al-Ahram Weekly.
"I exerted a lot of effort and thank God I won. I was really happy the first few moments after winning but then I started to think about the bigger challenge. I will have to increase my training every day and create new moves to be up to representing Egypt in the world final in which I hope to be one of the best 32 worldwide."
Mohamed played genuine football in Zamora CF in Spain.
The six--day Porto Marina event started on 19 June at Wadi Digla Club in Maadi as part of the first qualifying round. Alexandria's Ittihad Club hosted the second qualifier followed by Ismaili Club. Gezira and Delta hosted the fourth and fifth qualifiers.
The final was judged by Khaled Bebo, the former Ahli star, Daniel Rooseboom, Dutch freestyle professional player and world number four, and Jin Sasaki, section manager at Team Le Mans from Japan. They were impressed by the players' footballing skills and creativity.
"The championship was exciting and we watched a lot of really dazzling performances," Bebo told Al-Ahram Weekly.
"The idea is fantastic and I hope it will be continue to be held from time to time in Egypt. Egypt is full of such talent and the championship will motivate a huge number of youths to participate in the future," Bebo added.