It was one of those evening rush hours on a week day in Accra; David Adisah sat at the editing bench reviewing some videos, at his SkyPoint Studios on the first floor of a block of shops in Kotobabi, a suburb of Accra. Down in the street below, cars and trucks in a long uneven queue were crawling towards the high-class neighbourhoods of Roman Ridge and Airport Residential Area.
For, David that day, the day’s work wasn’t over yet. He was reviewing and making final cuts to videos for episodes of his freestyle football show. He would stop a video clip and ask for a second opinion on certain angles and cuts, and he gave out instructions to his editors, intermittently.
Most days are like that at the SkyPoint Studios if he and his crew are not out shooting videos, planning their next production or meeting with clients. David is an entrepreneur in his early forties. He has set-up a video production studio where he does corporate documentaries, wedding photography and music videos.
He got the idea for a freestyle football contest from watching a television show. “I was at home one day, flipping the tv channels, then I saw guys playing and juggling balls; and that’s it.” During his days as a young boy growing up in Kotobabi, he and his friends used to watch boys juggle soccer balls with passion. Freestyle football is the art of self expression with a football, while performing various tricks with any part of the body.
Following that discovery, David did his research, and made contact with the World Freestyle Football Federation (F3) for the right to organise community freestyle football in Ghana. After a successful negotiation, and preparations the SkyBall Ghana, the country’s franchisee of the World Freestyle Football Federation held the first freestyle contest in Accra in 2012. Although it was a small event, David and his team were happy it came off well, and the enthusiasm displayed by the players and spectators was encouraging, really.
Since then the Ghana Freestyle Football Federation has held three subsequent shows—from 2013 to 2015. The shows have shown signs of steady growth.
The 2015 Freestyle Football Show
The last was the biggest of the three. It took place at the new Kotobabi Wembley, an artificial grass on the night of March 24. There were a dozen contestants from Kotobabi and the nearby communities of Nima, Maamobi, Newtown and Alajo.
By 5pm that day, contestants had gathered and began to warm up for the night’s show. They tossed, kicked and span three balls in turns, as they tune up their skills. Up in the stands spectators began to take seats to wait expectantly for the show to begin.
Soon, the show judges arrived. There were three of them: Laryea Kingson, ex Ghanaian Black Stars player, Marketing Manager for RedBull in Ghana, and a freestyle football expert. They took their seats on the sidelines. Then the loudspeakers came on as the announcer stepped up the stage to open the show. By now a large crowd had gathered round the perimeter. Everywhere that people could seat or stand to watch the show, including the inner perimeter was filled up with spectators.
Young rappers from the hoods took turns to wow the crowd to set the stage for an exciting night. One spectacular rapper was a Shatta Wale look-alike who displayed riveting showmanship that sent the audience wild excitedly. The musical prelude was done in the first hour.
The ensuing two hours was the real show time of the night. Twelve freestyle football players went on three rounds of freestyle ball juggling. The contest itself went like this: the contestants mounted the stage in pairs and took turns to juggle, and passing the ball between them without dropping it.
After successive rounds of playing and eliminations, prizes were awarded to a winner and two runners up. Laryea Kingson and sponsors of the show from RedBull presented the awards to winners. In the end of it all, many who played various roles on the show, from players, officials to spectators, showed happiness for what they did, and called for another show soon.
Back in the office at the SkyPoint Studios, David Adisah was doing a post-production evaluation. At this stage in his plan to promote freestyle football in the communities of Accra and Ghana’s main cities, lack of a good sponsorship is the main constraint. “We have to try and get very good sponsorship to push the game”, he said.
Although his organisation, SkyBall Ghana, was able to hold three shows successfully with little sponsorship, David knows he needs some real investment into the sport to reach many more talented young people and much bigger number of spectators.
For that reason, SkyBall Ghana is rebuilding its management team, bringing some specific skills onboard. The team will be charged to secure appropriate sponsorship for the sport and to greatly improve the operations of SkyBall Ghana.
What’s more, David is in negotiation with some television networks to start airing the show, beginning this year. With a smile David assures his team things will work out well. Things will work out very well.