MATCH catches up with LIV COOKE, one member of the UEFA EURO 2020 mascot team, to chat about her epic freestyling career!
LIV SAYS: “I’ve always been football crazy! I learnt to juggle sitting down after suffering a bad back injury playing for Blackburn’s academy. It wasn’t long until I discovered the world of freestyle football and fell in love with it. I carried on learning freestyle football while still trying to play football for a year, but I then realised I couldn’t be the best freestyler in the world AND play footy for England – I had to choose!”
BEING A FREESTYLER!
LIV SAYS: “I’m living my dream! Actually, it’s beyond anything I’d ever dreamed of! I’m still working every day and chasing progress
– I trust in hard work. It’s also so rewarding to see how other people can be inspired to take up freestyling or just have more confidence in what they do!”
LIV SAYS: “When I first started I didn’t even realise I was training. I was in my garden pretty much all day every day trying to land new tricks. At 15, when I decided I wanted to be the best in the world, I was training around six to eight hours a day, six days a week. This was as well as taking notes, analysing my moves and working on my mindset for a few hours a day.”
LIV SAYS: “My signature move is now the ‘thigh pop’, which is when the ball is trapped between your heel and bum. When you extend your leg sharply, you pop the ball out and upwards. I have lots of variations of this trick, like popping the ball up during a roly poly, during a handstand or an around the world!”
LIV SAYS: “Of course, achieving my dream of becoming World Champion is, and probably always will be, my favourite moment, but there are other big ones – like the honour of being selected as a UEFA EURO 2020 freestyler. Being able to take the beauty of freestyling, street football and panna to football fans all over Europe is a really special opportunity!”
LIV SAYS: “I probably find myself getting frustrated and not being able to do a trick more often than people expect. It happens, especially when you’re trying to push yourself and learn new things. I just try to keep my mind in a positive state, so I’ll put songs on that do exactly that!”
LIV SAYS: “Sometimes when I meet kids they say things along the lines of ‘I want to be like you when I grow up.’ This is so lovely to hear, but it also frustrates me because I want them to raise the bar. I tell them ‘No! You must aim higher than that – you can be way better than me! You can achieve anything you want if you put your mind to it. Promise me you’ll aim higher than me!’”