You must have probably seen them along some street corners, at events and fun days or even watched them on TV but have you ever met them? Who- freestyle footballers. The men who can do what your ordinary footballer can not do with the ball and in reverse the ordinary footballer can’t dare copy.
Space is no issue for them, actually the smallest space you might never want your son or daughter to enjoy a game of football is just big enough for this niche’ of the beautiful game.
On this day, I’m lucky to meet one great Kenyan freestyle footballer, not just famous for what he has done- but for what he has dared to do.
Meet Willis Yoga, a young man whose love for the game is clear from the moment I first set my eyes on him. Clad in a beautiful France 98 kit (Zidane pops up my head), cool jeans pants and some flashy yellow rubbers to accompany it- he doesn’t really paint the perfect picture of a street footballer. I bet he’s not on duty now, so he won’t really have to act the part.
The story behind this young man who grew up in ‘Maringo’ in Nairobi’s Eastlands began just like that of every other young man who wanted to be one day a big soccer star just like his father ex Gor Mahia player the Late George ‘Best’ Yoga. However his love for theatrics with the ball and a burning feeling to always express himself when on the ball more than often drew him away from the actual dream of being a football star.
Being engrossed more and more into this sort of ‘new love’ for the game curiously led him to try to see if there were guys who held these records and how he would beat them. But first before he dared these feats; he says- lots of time had to be cultivated into improving his patience and endurance levels.
Who holds these records and has he ever attempted?
How many of us ever say in their heads ‘I think I can too’ especially after watching others make an attempt and never do it eventually. But here is a different guy, watched a few videos on YouTube, read about guys who held street football records and thought to himself ‘Ahem, I think I can.’ It just didn’t end there, he took it upon himself to try them and boy- read on, he’s doing great.
“Heading a Soccer Ball’
In 2006, Willis started a strange but satisfying journey. Having known that earlier in 2004 a man by the name Tomas Lundman had made a record by heading the ball continuously for 8hrs 32 minutes and 03 seconds he sought to try to match this record. So one morning in 2006 at the Goethe Institute in Nairobi he sat down to make this history. To him and all those around him, the world stood, the clock didn’t move and their boy was out to make history.
After exactly 7 hours, 37 minutes the ball hit the ground- and like that, his world crashed. Although he is listed as second behind Tomas, he still aims to beat this record in the future. Now read this next one.
“Heading a Soccer Ball in a sitting position”
The current record holder in this category is one Tomas Lundman from Sweden who managed this amazing feat in record time 4:09:26 hours on 20th April 2007 in Marsta Sweden. Mr Willis though wanting not to be left behind tried to counter this record and its amazing- just 580 days at Parklands Sports Club he managed 4:04:45 hours a record that puts him at second position in the world.
Today Willis Yoga wants to break more records, he’s not happy with being at second place any more. While his brother (whom we might feature another day has 2 records to his name) Willis aims at taking another shot at the records but he admits lots of challenges stand in his way and pursuit for success.
Getting to the Guinness book of World Records is his main aim. The Guinness Book of World Records only accepts records that are witnessed by their agents of which none exists in Kenya currently. That therefore means, to break a record and be recognized for it- one has to either go to the location of the agent or bring the agent- which requires lots of money.
While thanking former Rally Ace and hospitality guru Mr Phineas Kimathi who sponsored their 2008 exploits through his San Valencia Outfit, Willis expresses his desire to attempt another undertaking but needs help to fund training and another record-breaking shot.
Willis and his brother still wait and hope for another title shot (hopefully), but before then he engages in several events (entertainment ones mostly) and dazzles his fans with near impossible moves with the ball.
“I don’t just want to use Free Style football to entertain, I want to one day raise funds by juggling for a cause, for me- there are no limits to this” he notes as we end our conversation.
To get in touch (also for bookings) with Willis Yoga contact him on Luandamagere2011@gmail.com or Tel.: +254 725 490 151.
Below are videos of Willis Yoga alongside his brother Kenneth not just breaking records but also doing what they love- ENJOY!