The latest chapter of Italy’s long and proud footballing tradition saw the country host the 2012 Red Bull Street Style World Final. The freestyle flair of the best ballers on the planet can now be enjoyed again as video on demand at redbull.tv.
The best street footballers on the planet came to Lecce in southern Italy to contest the 2012 Red Bull Street Style World Final. 3,000 football fans packed out the arena while another 10,000 watched the action on big screens in the piazza outside.
Nearly 5,000 tricksters entered this year’s competition before the best of the best were selected to show off their skills in Lecce. This year saw the introduction of a female competition as well as the male final.
The rules of the game are simple – each battle lasts three minutes with the ballers exchanging possession of the football every 30 seconds. The judging panel then decide who has pulled off the most creative combos as well as awarding points for control and style.
One of Red Bull Street Style’s biggest fans is former Dutch international footballer Edgar Davids. The ex-Juventus player understands the work and dedication all the ballers appearing the final have put into mastering their tricks
“This sport combines style, creativity and skills. When I was playing in the Youth Team of Ajax Amsterdam we tried to perform these tricks and went after training sessions to the streets to improve our skills. To reach the level the World Finalists have you need to train up to 8 hours per day.”
Just like in any form of football there are always upsets and the Red Bull Street Style World Final proved no exception. Last year Norway’s Anders Solum kicked and flipped his way to victory at the World Final in Cape Town but in Lecce he was booted out of the competition in the early rounds.
With Anders out the 16 remaining ballers who lined up for the one-on-one knockout battles knew that with a little bit of luck they could go all the way. All 16 ballers put on a mesmerising display of freestyle footballing flair. There were no easy decisions for the judging panel, including World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro, who had to make the call on who progressed to the next round.
Eventually there were only two ballers left standing – Japan’s Kotaro Tokuda and Ireland’s Daniel Dennehy. A rollercoaster of a final twisted and turned as the ball was passed between the two freestylers. One baller would wow the crowd for 30 seconds before passing on the ball and seeing the other finalist pull an even more impressive trick out of the bag.
It was a tight call but in the end the glory went to Japan’s Kotaro Tokuda as he was named the Red Bull Street Style Men’s Champion. Over in the female category the skills on show were just as insane as anything the boys were pulling off.
The two females who reached the final were Hungary’s Kitti Szász and France’s Mélody Donchet. With both girls nailing trick after trick the judges had a tough job to separate them. The final decision to hand the win to Kitti was based on her interaction with the crowd while she was up on stage doing her thing.
You can watch every kick from the Red Bull Street Style World Final as video on demand at redbull.tv.