#BounceExclusive: New Nigeria Freestyle Football Champion Ready To Shock The World
Warri no dey carry last is a usual parlance in Nigerian circles and that claim has become another testimony.
From entertainment to showbiz and even sports, individuals from this oil-rich city of Warri have often distinguished themselves and the list is endless - ask Efe of Big Brother Naija.
Far from done, Warri is in the spotlight again, this time the region has produced the first nationally recognized Freestyle Football champion - McCarthy Obanor.
Obanor is a classic example of persistence in the face of adversity and after a decade of struggling the Urhobo boy has hit it big and according to him, he is ready to shock the world.
In a chat with Bounce Sports, the master ball joggler relived how it all began.
“I started freestyle football in 2007 when I saw a guy called Israel Majembi at the Warri Township stadium when I went to watch a match and I told him I was interested in this type of football.
“He told me all I needed was a ball; that I should just go ahead and practice. I went home and began to practice and today I can combine tricks and use it on the stage.
Practice, sweat, more practice, more sweat until he emerged as the winner of the first edition of the Nigeria National Freestyle Championship accredited by the World Federation of Freestyle Football.
Feet ‘n’ Tricks International were the organisers of the event.
Unlike other competitions where Obanor has finished tops, his latest triumph saw him winning the sum of one million naira.
“My secret weapon for the world championships is just to practice very hard. I need to watch videos of world champions, combine their tricks and make up my own unique set to be able to have a chance in the world championships.”
This years' Super Ball will be running from 20th to 26th August 2017 with over 250 participants from 40 countries expected.
Obanor is full of smiles now but that was not always the case. He says he had to dig deep to motivate himself against all odds especially people's negative comments.
“The first competition was very very poor. I won N50,000 in 2008. After that competition, my mum came and asked me to buy baby things for my younger brother. I told her is it with this N50,000 you want me to buy baby things? I have not even bought myself some boots.
“The second prize money came in 2012, there I won N100,000 but I couldn’t do anything with that money because freestyle football was developing in Nigeria and I had to travel around. In 2013, I won prize money again, this time N90,000.
“This (Feet ‘n’ Tricks organized tournament) is the best competition I have ever seen in Nigeria. I was listening to the president of freestyle football worldwide and he was saying something, he said Feet and Tricks event is like a world tournament.
“As far back as 2010 I have hoping that I would have the opportunity to represent Nigeria in this sport and today it has become a reality all thanks to the organisers".
Valentine Ozigbo, Chairman of Feet ‘n’ Tricks International, organisers of the event that threw Obanor to the limelight has vowed to stay all the way with the Nigerian champion; while also promising a better tournament in 2018.
Do you have bull joggling skills as well? Prepare for the 2018 edition