BM: Tell us about your personal life and educational experience?
JB: I have always been involved in different kinds of sports since high school like; table tennis, swimming and mostly football. When I was doing my intermediate, I started freestyling. As I gradually got involved in it deeply, I then thought to adopt it as my profession. That is how I eventually started my career in professional football. So, after completing my intermediate, I dedicated myself towards the future of football.
I have been playing football for the past ten years. I used to watch various videos, learning different skills and strategies, I thought it was cool and so considered to try it out and started performing the basic tricks of freestyle football. Then I got to know about the Redbull streetstyle event which took place in 2010 and thought to participate, later on making it my career. I started training for 6 to 8 hours, daily. This is when I thought that I should totally dedicate myself to freestyle football. I also participated in the Redbull freestyling event that took place in 2012 and stood third in the competition.
BM: You already won a national title. How do you, now, feel availing new opportunities and chances to grow?
JB: In 2015, with the collaboration of World Freestyle Football, the governing body of freestyle football across the globe, an event was organized in Pakistan. I won and became the first Pakistani to be included in international rankings, whereas, my last rank was ‘53’ across the globe. Then in 2016, I won the Redbull street style competition for the second time in a row.
My goal is to win international events. I believe Redbull arranges the top most events, but, there are many more which have a world-class standing. Among these includes the Super Ball event, which is a part of the World Future Football Federation, which selects the top three winners of the Redbull streetstyle. So my main goal is to improve my ranking and upgrade to the top 16 so that I may go for the world tour of F3.
BM: What were the drawbacks and hardships you faced during your football career?
JB: When I competed in the first Redbull streetstyle competition, in 2012, I lost in the semi-final. I was not disappointed and instead trained even harder for future competitions. However, no championships were held at that time, for almost two years which left freestyle players across Pakistan disheartened. The next championship was held in 2015, which delighted all the players, although they were not in form. It was a great achievement, where people from 8 different cities participated actively.
I knew that Redbull streetstyle will happen again. However, I was not in a good form when the event was organized again in 2016. But, I decided to push my limits and trained harder. Just a few days before the event I faced many hardships. I broke my hand firstly and after its recovery I lost my mother, forever. Even after all these problems, I still tried my level best and won the event for the second time.
BM: What is your message for people aspiring to master in freestyle football?
JB: F3 has linked to every country and RedBull is there partner; the last event was organized with their collaboration. We provide a platform for freestylers so that they may compete in events such like that. And if I become the world champion of Redbull Streetstyle, I won’t compete in the next event so that new freestylers are provided with an opportunity to prove themselves.
BM: What are your future plans? Do you plan to take freestyling to international levels?
JB: There are many different places for freestylers to connect, where every city has its own spot. Almost 70 per cent of Pakistani population knows about freestyling, but, except Redbull there is no other platform. Unfortunately, due to the lack of knowledge, people ignore this sport. They don’t see that they have a future in this field and thus, do not have a plan to pursue this profession.
We have a community on Facebook through which we interact with each other. The only way freestyling can grow in Pakistan is through Redbull competitions which are creating awareness among the people. If, after some improvements, the events are organized every year then they can turn out to be a huge plus for the players.