The Indian Super League has moved into the business end of its fourth season and teams are going all out to try and ensure that they qualify for the knockout stages of the competition. Fans have thronged to the stadium to catch the thrilling action and they seem to be loving every minute of it.
Yes, every minute. Even the half-time break, if not especially then.And why shouldn’t they, when they are witnessing some of the world’s best freestyle footballers? This entertaining package is par to the Apollo Half-Time Spectacle through Apollo Tyres’ association with the ISL, and fans are mopping up every bit of the action as the freestylers showcase their skills, in front of a massive crowd.
In a country like India, where football isn't the most popular sport, Apollo Tyres is making sure that it doesn’t stay that way. Having been associated with the Indian Super League and football teams in the country like Chennaiyin FC, Minerva Punjab and international giants such as Manchester United, Apollo aims to take the sport to the masses and spark a football revolution in the country. By getting freestylers to display their football talent as part of the Apollo Tyres Half-Time Spectacle, they have offered budding youngsters and fans a great opportunity to fall in love with the sport.
But, what do these freestylers do? How did they learn their skills? And how do they help attract more fans to the stadiums? Let’s take a look at the stars from the Apollo Half-Time Spectacle:
A Turkish-German footballer, she plays as a midfielder for DSC Arminia Bielefeld in the German league and works on her freestyle skills regularly to complement her football career. Yaren trains for three to four hours every day, to ensure that she continuously improves her ability to freestyle with the ball. She specializes in performing tricks with the ball, making use of her body flexibility and has also performed at tournaments like 2010 FIFA Women's U-20 World Cup and 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.
The 28-year-old had the crowd on its feet during her performance at Kochi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in December, during Kerala Blasters and Northeast United half-time. Her ability to do keepy-uppies with both feet while doing step-overs and balancing the ball on her thigh, left the audience spellbound.
Catch the bits of her performance during Apollo Half-Time Spectacle on December 15 below:
Unlike Yaren, Kitti Szasz has never played football professionally, and yet, she’s one of the most coveted freestyle footballers in the world. Equally adept at performing tricks with her head and feet, Szasz has incredible coordination and body control and has won the Women's Freestyle Football World Championship, four times. The Hungarian has been a freestyle footballer for more than eight years now and has collaborated with many great athletes across the globe, including her idol, Neymar.
At a young age of just 26, Szasz has carved out a niche for herself with her ability to freestyle and Apollo Tyres helped highlight her talent, as she performed an incredible duet with fellow freestyler KalinaMatysiak during one of the half-time shows, where the two of them lifted the ball off their foot, landed it onto their necks, sat down and brought the ball down seamlessly onto their feet, and then finally bounced the ball on the sole of their feet while lying down – A truly mesmerising sight!
The crowd went wild watching the visual artistry and cheered them on during the performance of a lifetime. Catch a short clip of the performance, here.
After winning the Women's Freestyle World Championships in Tokyo, Kalina Matysiak has established herself as one of the top female freestyle footballers in the world and is a regular presence at freestyle football events and shows across the world.
She has been enthralling the audience at the Indian Super League during half-time shows, performing the Around the World trick walking around in a circle, which makes the trick even more challenging.
Catch Kalina's Around the World masterclass here.
You can also watch a short montage of Apollo Tyres’ Freestyler squad’s performance at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, here.
The video includes multiple tricks like Keepy-uppies, Around the World and Around the Moon. These tricks look really cool and have always interested budding youngsters across the world to take up the sport.
Having already performed and entertained fans during the Apollo Half-time Spectacle in 13 matches this season, the freestyle footballers will continue to perform for fans across the country in the matches to come. Their next performance comes to you from the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on the 25th of January as they perform during half-time of the encounter between ATK and Chennaiyin FC.Published 16 Feb 2018, 16:41 IST