Valentine Ozigbo, the Chairman of Feet ‘N’ Tricks International, in a press statement on Monday, July 6, 2020, revealed that the telecommunications giant will be the headline sponsor of the freestyle football championship whose finale will hold on July 19, 2020.
“We are excited to welcome our returning sponsor, MTN, in this year’s championship which we are hosting in unusual and difficult times for many around the world,” said Mr Ozigbo, who is also the immediate past President and Group CEO of Transcorp Plc.
Commenting on the sponsorship, Rahul De, Chief Marketing Officer, MTN Nigeria said, “As a youth-focused company, Freestyle Football’s brand essence reflects what the MTN brand stands for – excellence and excitement wrapped into one solid platform.”
“Freestyle UNLOCKED Africa 2020 is a worthy platform for MTN to touch the lives of the future freestyle football stars on the continent of Africa. The sport embodies the beauty, diversity and fluidity of the African people and we are proud to partner with Feet ‘N’ Tricks International on this adventure,” De added.
This is the second time that MTN has sponsored the sporting event. The first was in 2018. Other sponsors of the championship are Valentine Chineto Ozigbo Foundation and Eko Disco.
Freestyle UNLOCKED Africa 2020 is the virtual version of the African Freestyle Championships organised by the sports promoter. The competition began in 2017 as the Nigerian Freestyle Football Championship. The following year, it became a continental sports event with over 18 countries participating in the finals in Lagos, Nigeria.
Feet ‘N’ Tricks International, which is hosting this competition in partnership with the World Freestyle Football Association (WFFA) also announced the judges for Freestyle Unlocked Africa 2020.
Daniel Wood, the co-founder of WFFA, informed that the judges are a panel of legendary freestyle footballers selected based on their expertise and vast experience in the sport spanning, cumulatively, several decades.
According to him, the panel of judges demonstrates that “freestyle football is an important sport touching the future of Africa”.
“We are particularly delighted to welcome, for the first time, two legends of freestyle football in Africa. Chris Njokwana, 2008 South African Freestyle champion who has performed in front of 70,000 people and featured in countless TV adverts and Kamal ‘Kamilio’ Ranchod, who won South African’s Freestyle Streetstyle championship in 2010 and went on to place 2nd in the World Championship later that year.
“Ranchod has served as a judge of international championships such as Super Ball World Open and Sal Beach Games,” Wood announced.
The other judges are the head judge Lukasz Chwieduk, 27, a Polish freestyle footballer and two-time European freestyle football champion; Caitlyn Schrepfer, an American freestyle footballer and two-time USA female champion, and Yo Katsuyama, 23, a Japanese freestyle football champion who finished 2nd at the 2019 Super Ball World Open Championship.
Mr. Ozigbo, a respected business leader and philanthropist, said he was driven to start the championship with his friends owing to his keen love for the game of football and the expressiveness of the freestyle genre.
Feet ‘N’ Tricks International is Africa’s largest promoter of freestyle football and Freestyle UNLOCKED Africa 2020 will open for entries on July 1, 2020, and the finale will be on July 19, 2020.
While explaining that sustaining the championship will guarantee the growth and continuity of the freestyle football genre, Ozigbo went on to use the opportunity to call on well-meaning sponsors and sports-lovers alike to seize this chance to push forward a culture that can rally people and foster unity and oneness.
Ozigbo reiterated his assertion that he doesn’t plan on dropping momentum with freestyle football until Nigeria hosts the World Football Freestyle Championship.