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
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