Two-time Freestyle Football World Championship finalist Edward ‘Gattuso’ Murimi is among the 16 players who will battle it out in the Red Bull Street Style national challenge set for Nairobi on July 1, 2022.
The 30-year-old prolific juggler is currently stepping up training for the competition at his base in Mwiki, Kasarani.
Red Bull Street Style football is the art of doing tricks with a football; performing impossible feats of dexterity to dazzle the crowds.
The tricks involve juggling, controlling and balancing the ball impressively with almost a magical adhesion.
Launched in 2008, Red Bull Street Style football aims to find the best overall Freestyle Football player in the world and only the most creative, technical, and stylish are crowned Red Bull Street Style World Champions.
The top three finalists in the Kenyan national contest will walk away with lucrative cash prizes.
In addition, the overall national winner will get the opportunity to represent Kenya in the continental virtual contest, slated for July, where the champion will get a ticket to represent Africa in the World Final in Croatia on October 8.
“I’m leaving nothing to chance, I’m training very hard so I can give this competition my best,” the triple national champion underlined.
Murimi is among the top eight players already seeded for the challenge that seeks to take street football to the next level with a fresh format. Others are Oliver ‘Jillo’ Rhaya, Oscar ’The Juggler’ Litondo, Martin Kibera, Daniel Kuria, Maurice Nzioki, Tyrone Suchi and Dennis Shiveka.
During the national contest, eight new players will be selected to join the top-ranked jugglers in the tournament which is expected to be explosive.
“To those willing to try their luck, don’t lose hope in case you don’t make it; just start from there, proceed, be consistent,” Murimi underscored.
Jillo has warned the veterans in the game to expect tough competition on the day saying it will not be a walk in the park for the ‘old guards’ who have ruled the sport for a while.
“I’m among the veteran players who will be in the competition; to be realistic the tournament will be stiff. I have seen the new players who are coming up. They are unstoppable,” said Jillo.
Jillo, who triumphed last season in the Nairobi qualifiers, is yet to win a national final, a feat he says he will be happy to achieve.
“My expectation in the event this year is to be among the top three, if I get the opportunity to represent the country at the continental level that will be a huge plus for me,” he says.
Jillo advice budding jugglers not to compare themselves with their opponents but rather to focus on their strengths.
“In freestyle football, everyone has their solid areas that can impress the judges, this can take them to the next levels,” he emphasized.
This year’s Red Bull Street Style will see thousands of athletes from over 50 countries compete in a new format tournament that will guarantee continental finalists a chance to sail into the World Final.