FRENCH FREESTYLER DO­CHET WOWS CROWDS

Scores of lo­cal fans flock to watch soc­cer mas­ter’s per­for­mance in Liaon­ing

China Daily European Weekly - - SHENYANG SPECIAL - By ZHUAN TI

As world freestyle soc­cer cham­pion Melo­day Do­chet made her Shenyang de­but in March, au­di­ences were left stunned by her foot­work.

The 27-year-old from France dove­tailed her ball skills with hip-hop dances, sending the crowds wild.

Dif­fer­ent from com­pet­i­tive soc­cer, freestyle soc­cer is a trendy art sport com­bin­ing a va­ri­ety of el­e­ments, such as street dances, ball skills and music, which en­joys pop­u­lar­ity with dif­fer­ent age groups. Per­form­ers show var­i­ous tricks, in­clud­ing keepie-up­pies with dif­fer­ent parts of their bod­ies.

When Do­chet per­formed at a shop­ping mall in the cap­i­tal of Liaon­ing prov­ince in North­east China, an au­di­ence of thou­sands of lo­cal res­i­dents burst into ap­plause.

Dur­ing her week­long stay in the city, she also vis­ited a soc­cer mu­seum and coached lo­cal teenagers in freestyle soc­cer.

Soc­cer pro­fes­sion­als and pro­mo­tions are key to Shenyang’s goal of build­ing it­self into a soc­cer cap­i­tal, Do­chet told lo­cal me­dia in an in­ter­view.

She said she hopes her in­volve­ment will en­cour­age more chil­dren to love soc­cer, which helps to in­crease phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal strength.

Li Yingfa, honorary pres­i­dent of the Liaon­ing Soc­cer De­vel­op­ment Pro­mo­tion As­so­ci­a­tion, said: “The de­vel­op­ment of China’s soc­cer in­dus­try is de­pen­dent on re­lated train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion.

“The French prac­tice of in­te­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy and ed­u­ca­tion into the soc­cer sec­tor is, in my opin­ion, quite good,” he said. “I hope Chi­nese chil­dren can en­joy soc­cer games.”

Born in 1990, Do­chet has won world cham­pi­onships four times over the past four years, in­clud­ing the 2014 Street Style World Cham­pi­onship and the women’s ti­tle dur­ing the Red Bull Street Style World Fi­nal in the United King­dom in 2016.

She started train­ing at the age of 5 and joined the ranks of the top 16 fe­male soc­cer play­ers in France in 2006, com­pet­ing for the French na­tional women’s soc­cer fed­er­a­tion tour­na­ment.

Yet the tal­ented soc­cer player had to leave the pitch be­cause of se­vere in­juries in 2008.

Out of her pas­sion and love for the sport, she turned to freestyle soc­cer, with at­tempts to in­te­grate it with hip-hop, which gave a new lease of life to her ca­reer.

In com­par­i­son with com­pet­i­tive soc­cer that fo­cuses more on speed and com­pe­ti­tion, freestyle soc­cer puts an em­pha­sis on phys­i­cal dex­ter­ity, deft­ness and co­or­di­na­tion, she said.

Cur­rently, Do­chet has 200,000 fans on so­cial me­dia plat­forms, with more than 1 mil­lion vis­its to her freestyle soc­cer videos.

As the videos have caught wide at­ten­tion on­line, she be­gan her world per­for­mance tours in 2010.

The Shenyang leg was part of her lat­est China tour in March. The other two cities on the tour were Bei­jing and Shang­hai.

PHOTOS BY ZHANG FAN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Melo­day Do­chet, a soc­cer freestyler from France, show­cases her ball skills at the Shenyang Im­pe­rial Palace, also known as the Muk­den Palace, which was built in 1625 as the res­i­dence of the founders of the Qing Dy­nasty (1644-1911) be­fore the royal fam­ily con­quered Bei­jing.

Do­chet per­forms at a shop­ping mall in Shenyang, Liaon­ing prov­ince, in April.

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