Pradeep, who has his own academy, trains youngsters in freestyle football.
Little did people think that tricks with a football could bring anything more than few likes and shares on Facebook. Not many even know that such tricks fall under a category called freestyle football, and it’s a big deal. Two lads from Chennai have made people turn their heads by setting Guinness records!
Pradeep Ramesh, 27, made 284 consecutive football touches on his knees under a minute, while Raghul Raja, 21, made 117 eye-to-eye rolls with a football in a minute. The previous records were 250 and 98 respectively.
Pradeep, who has his own academy, trains youngsters in freestyle football. He says, “I was into football when I was in school and it continued throughout college as well, but midway, I understood that it would not be financially viable because it was not paying me well. Moreover, I think it is near impossible to be a successful footballer in India — the selection process is simply unfair. Back then, Nike and Adidas had great advertisements featuring great freestyling moves, which inspired me to take this up.”
Raghul had his share of complications too. “I studied in a government school where there wasn’t much importance given to sport. There was no proper selection process. So I couldn’t join them. This coincided with an Internet connection being set up at my home. So I began watching videos (especially Ronaldinho’s freestyle skills). I picked it up from there. That’s also how I came to know about Pradeep, and we collaborated together for the Guinness,” Raghul explains.
Pradeep says that freestylers don’t have it easy, contrary to popular perception. “I’ve had to market myself to get shows, and gigs,” he says. He has even collaborated with Bollywood stars like Akshay Kumar and Ranveer Singh for films and ads.
He adds, “Apart from having my own academy and a YouTube channel, the Guinness Record now feels like a crown!” Pradeep’s YouTube channel, Pro Soccer Art, comes out with video tutorials, trick shots, and football related product reviews. He recently did a freestyle based choreography of Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You, which is gaining
Speaking about how freestyle football still hasn’t got its due, he says, “I’m still seen as the guy who does tricks for entertainment. Even at my academy, I have students who give up the practice too easily. Now that’s changing with a lot being written about it. But the government must realise this and recognise it as more than just a form of entertainment. “
Telling us about his future plans, Raghul says, “My parents are happy about this feat, but they still want me to go for a regular job. I’ve joined a BPO, where I will get six days off a month to practice.”
Pradeep, however, is unhappy about it, especially since he plans to break freestyling records in the future. “I don’t want his talent to go waste. If he practices more, he can achieve a lot more than just one record!”