Bend it like freestyle: Meet Delhi’s freewheeling footballer Nikk
In a conversation with HT City, 21-year-old Nikhil Krishna aka Nikk Freestyler decodes the art of football freestyling and tells us how it transformed his life.football Updated: Jun 02, 2017 11:55 IST
Ever heard of freestyle football? Well, you must have seen various videos of street footballers from the around trending on Facebook, that showcase their amazing dribbling and ball juggling tricks. Freestyle football is a subset of football that can be defined as the art of self-expression through football. The sport truly captures the essence of ‘joga bonito’, a popular Portuguese phrase that means to play the sport beautifully.
Delhi’s own freestyle footballer
21-year-old Nikhil Krishna is a professional freestyle footballer. He goes by the name Nikk Freestyler. The Delhiite, who graduated from Dyal Singh College, Delhi University, wants to popularise the art in the country. Nikk has appeared in an ad featuring Italian football legend Alessandro Del Piero, Dutch-Spanish footballer Hans Mulder and Spanish professional footballer Bruno Herrero Arias. He has also appeared in an ad for Delhi Dynamos, a football franchise that competes in Indian Super league. Nikk was also a part of the jury at the Indian freestyle championship in 2016 . He also works as a virtual coach for Active Fun Academy, an online education platform.
In a conversation with HT City, Nikk talks about the challenges he faced during his journey to become a professional in his field along with his future plans.
I used to play football when I was in the sixth grade and I loved it. I had joined a football club, but later I realised that there was not much scope. Hence, I switched to freestyle football. I don’t even know exactly why I switched. I guess I did it because I didn’t want to leave football completely. The art transformed my life forever. It helped me come out of my shell and shed stage fear. It gave me a lot of joy to express myself through this style. I could connect to the audience. Their appreciation after watching a show gave me a lot of satisfaction. Once I became a professional, the idea was to promote this art . Many in India do not know about freestyle football. I want to take the culture to every corner of the country.
Decoding freestyle football:
Freestyle football is about self-expression through football, while performing various tricks with any part of the body. I saw several videos of the football legends such as Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo surprising people on the streets with their skills. I got motivated after seeing their skills . Freestyling doesn’t need much space to practice . A small space can be utilised for practising. Football and futsal (another variation of football where the game is played on hard court and it’s a five-a-side match) need other players to play , but in freestyle football you can practise all alone or in a group. In freestyle football, you express yourself by showing your skills, whereas in other forms of football, you play to win.
Popularizing it in India:
Football and freestyle football is still not popular in India. People are obsessed with cricket in our country. However, football is gradually rising due to our own football leagues such as ISL (Indian Super League). But when it comes to freestyling, there are very few making attempts to spread the culture. My group is doing its bit by organising competitions with the help of Freestyle Football Federation. We need to spread awareness about the art by conducting workshops at various schools. Freestyle footballers can perform at college events, corporate events and product launches etc. The trend is slowly catching up, but it will take time to generate more awareness.
People does not recognise freestyle football as a life-changing art form. Also, since there is lack of awareness about the art, one can’t earn enough by doing shows.. There is no steady income and consistency in our work. There is also lack of recognition by media and funding is not sufficient. However, I am confident that with persistent efforts, the art will be very big one day, and we will be competing with globally famed freestyle footballers.
Favourite players and club:
Ronaldinho (from Brazil) and Cristiano Ronaldo (from Portugal) are my idols. I am a Real Madrid supporter.
To represent India at the world championship; to start a big academy in India to teach the art of freestyle football; to open an online platform for artists like us who are struggling to get work. It will help them get gigs.
Suggestion for upcoming freestylers :
It is not an art form that you can learn in haste. It takes time to grow and hone your art. Patience, hard work and dedication are the keys.