Bowman manoeuvres his way to freestyle win

Freestyle football hits Midland Park

SAM BOYER
Last updated 18:51 01/12/2012
Olly Bowman
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
TWISTED MANOEUVRE: Christchurch's Olly Bowman defeated Graeson Cooper to win the Yellow Fever Freestyle Football competition for the third year running.

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Handstands, backflips and head stalls are not usually associated with football, but when Yellow Fever Freestyle Football hit Midlands Park today, there were all manner of manoeuvres on show.

Eight competitors battled it out for the Wellington title, going toe-to-toe and trick-for-trick.

Ultimately, though, contest favourite Olly Bowman took out the event, winning the title for the third year in a row.

''I gave it my all. I'm pretty stoked,'' he said.

The 21-year-old from Christchurch said he practises his ball skills for 2-3 hours every day, as well as training breakdancing twice a week.

Fresh from a second-place at another event on the Gold Coast in Australia last week, the Wellington win all but guarantees him a place on the world tour circuit for 2013.

''I'm working in a sports store while I pursue my dream. Each competition [on the Australasian circuit] we get points - I should have enough because I won this to be on the world tour.''

World tour events include Paris, London, Kuala Lumpur and Dubai.

Wellington Phoenix midfielder Alex Smith, who judged the event, said the skills on show were exciting.

''It's pretty impressive. It's stuff we [football professionals] can't do. The boys obviously put a lot of work into it.''

Bowman beat 22-year-old Graeson Cooper in the final to take his third consecutive title. He also knocked Cooper out of the Gold Coast event last week.

Cooper, based in Australia, has won the Wellington event twice in the past. He said Bowman deserved the victory.
Freestyle football was a great way to entertain crowds, he said.

Ricardo Valdes, 21, from Auckland, particularly wowed the crowd with a blackflip while the ball was stalled between his legs. However, he failed to make it past the first round.

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