How I Move Lisa Zi­mouche

French-Al­ge­rian, 21, left PSG’s acad­emy aged 14 to be a freestyle foot­baller, and has per­formed along­side greats such as Ronald­inho and the rap­per Drake

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Women's Sport Monthly -

I use mu­sic when I am freestylin­g, so I make shows with rap­pers and dancers

As soon as I saw freestyle foot­ballers for the first time,

I knew that was what I wanted to do. I was 10 years old – I had started play­ing foot­ball for a team when I was seven and I was at a tour­na­ment where there were some freestyler­s per­form­ing in a show. I was the only girl on my team grow­ing up and some­times boys didn’t want me or want to play against me, but I was un­de­terred. I rushed home and the first trick I learnt was the Around The World. I watched videos and taught my­self. I tried hun­dreds of dif­fer­ent tech­niques to work out how to do it – and then I found the way.

The re­ac­tion on so­cial me­dia made me re­alise

that I could do some­thing big through freestyle foot­ball. At first, it was all about prov­ing to my­self that I could do it. It was never about mak­ing a ca­reer. When I started post­ing videos on­line, it be­came huge. I have more than two mil­lion fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram, 1.2mil­lion likes on my Face­book page and sev­eral of my YouTube videos have been viewed mil­lions upon mil­lions of times. That is when I had to choose be­tween be­ing a freestyler and a tra­di­tional foot­baller.

I played for PSG Women as a teenager

but, hon­estly, I do not think I wanted to be a pro­fes­sional foot­baller. That’s why I stopped. I had no in­juries or bad ex­pe­ri­ences – I just felt closer to the mind­set of a freestyler than a foot­baller. Even though they are sim­i­lar, I knew I wanted to be more artis­tic than be in a team and play with a coach.

I use mu­sic when I am freestylin­g,

so I make shows with rap­pers and dancers – I have done projects with Drake – and we prac­tise to­gether. Freestyle and dance are very close and artists in­spire me a lot to try new tricks. If a dancer does some­thing, I try to do the same and add my ball. We bat­tle, show our skills, and then you find things.

I love vis­ual tricks.

I can cre­ate what­ever I want with who­ever I want. I do not have any­one telling me what to do or how to do some­thing. I am my own coach. It is the mix­ture of be­ing able to make what­ever I love that in­ter­ests me the most. Some­times it is a case of see­ing some­one pull off a trick on In­sta­gram and want­ing to prac­tise it in an­other way or do it more times.

I have met many, many fa­mous peo­ple:

Usain Bolt, Paul Pogba, Ronald­inho. I was 17 when I met Ronald­inho at the Parc des Princes. We set up hidden cam­eras and per­formed tricks for each other. He said: “You’re re­ally good! Well done!” I was on edge, but so happy. Some­times you have a dis­cus­sion with these play­ers, teach each other tricks, share sto­ries. We play one-v-one, which is like a street soc­cer-style bat­tle to nut­meg the other per­son.

I don’t know if I am a role model,

but I want to show women and girls that we can do what­ever we want as long as we are pas­sion­ate. I part­nered with Lau­reus a few months ago and my main goal now is to give back and tell my story. I want to teach kids what sport has taught me: the im­por­tance of dis­ci­pline, a good work ethic and gen­der equal­ity, show­ing boys and girls that we are the same. I want to help raise the pro­file of women’s sport and help young peo­ple over­come what­ever challenges they’re fac­ing in their com­mu­ni­ties. Nel­son Man­dela said that sport has the power to change the world, and that is some­thing I fully be­lieve in.

Lisa Zi­mouche is an am­bas­sador for Lau­reus Sport for Good, a global char­ity that helps and sup­ports chil­dren and young peo­ple by us­ing sport to end vi­o­lence, dis­crim­i­na­tion and dis­ad­van­tage.

Baller: Lisa Zi­mouche wants her freestyle work to raise the pro­file of women’s sport and (above) with rap star Drake

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