The first Nigerian Freestyle Football Championship ended on a surprising note as the defending male champion Obanor McCarthy lost his title to Blessed Eze Akabudu. Rasheedat Ajibade also retained the female title after going head to head with Augustina Unemba .with event started with the Nigerian Championship followed by the opening ceremony for the Freestyle Football Championship African.
A scintillating performance by Kaffy Dance was one of the highlights of the ceremony. Outside, colourful stands by sponsors and vendors added glam to the event. The prize car from GAC motors was proudly displayed for all to see. Guinness Book of World Records holder, Iya Traore from France displayed entertaining freestyle tricks, and was complemented by superb performances by KCee, Slimcase and Mr. Real thrilled all the spectators.
From the 40 contestants for the Nigerian Championship, the judges, Gautier Fayolle, Syzmon Skalski and Tobias Brandal shortlisted 16 quarter-finalists. From that lot, 8 semi-finalists were chosen. They included last year's winner; Obanor McCarthy and second runner-up Mayowa Bababunmi. Others were Austin Abaribote, Blessed Ezeakabudu, Benjamin John, Tonye Solomon, Taiwo Theophilus and Christian Metu.
In an unexpected twist, the reigning champion was unseated as Blessed Ezeakabudu emerged winner of the Nigerian Championship. Austin Abariabote came second place, while the defending champion, Obanor McCarthy came third. Mayowa Bababunmi came in fourth position.
Eight lady footballers showcased their freestyle football skills and four went through for the grand finale. The 2017 women’s champion, Nigerian international and Nigeria Women Premier League (NWPL) side, FC Robo Queens captain, Rasheedat Ajibade, teammate, Chidinma Okeke, Blessing Faith and Augustina Unemba made it to the final. Rasheedat Ajibade emerged winner for the female category.
Valentine Ozigbo, Chairman, Feet 'n' Tricks International was particularly ecstatic about the huge turnout and the outcome of the Nigerian Championship "it has been a fun day with an impressive display of talent. We have had a wonderful time with the performance of the Nigerian freestylers. Expect the unexpected in freestyle football because it is about hours of practice to hone the skill. Ezeakabudu has shown that he has put in the hours and he's beating the best. We wish him well in the African Championship."
Daniel Wood, Co-founder of the World Freestyle Football Championship said "It has been an interesting event, and I love what I am seeing here. Everything is to WFFA standards and the Nigerian freestylers have displayed great skills. Blessed and Rasheedat deserved to win, he showed lovely skills with the ball. I anticipate tomorrow's African Championship and I am eager to see more amazing freestyle tricks."
Tomorrow, the African Championship will commence while the finals will hold on Saturday, September 12 at the Balmoral Convention Center from 10 am.