Kotaro Tokuda is the new world champion freestyle football
LECCE, Italy ● A new superstar of freestyle football emerged at the Red Bull Street Style World Final in Lecce, Italy as Kotaro Tokuda kicked and flipped his way to glory. Kotaro was on the top of game his throughout the competition as he battled past the 15 best freestyle ballers on the planet.
As well as the hotly contested men’s competition this year’s Red Bull Street Style World Final also saw the introduction of a women’s event. Taking home the prize in this new category was Hungary’s Kitti Szász after she pulled off the kind of tricks that would have made Ferenc Puskás proud.
The rules of Red Bull Street Style are simple – each battle lasts three minutes with the ballers exchanging possession of the football every 30 seconds. The judging panel then decide who has pulled off the most creative combos as well as awarding points for control and style.
Taking his place on the judging panel was Italy’s 2006 World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro who said, “I have played football all my life but I have never seen such ball control. The world’s top 16 freestyle ballers are exceptional talents.”
3,000 football fans squeezed into Lecce’s ancient Roman amphitheatre to get a close-up look at the action while a further 15,000 spectators watched on big screens from the piazza outside.
The women’s competition at the Red Bull Street Style World Final saw a semi-final battle between training partners Melody Donchet and Lisa Zimouche. Melody won the semi-final but had no answer to the crowd pleasing style of Kitti Szász in the final.
Over in the men’s competition it was Japan’s Kotaro Tokuda who took the top prize. Kotaro pulled off power move after to power move to leave the judges with no choice but to hand victory the Japanese baller.
Also impressing in the men’s competition was Ireland’s Dan ‘The Man’ Dennehy who finished as the losing finalist and also local favourite Gunther Celli who finished third.
Next year the Red Bull Street Style World Final will take place in Japan and give Kotaro Tokuda the chance to defend his title on homesoil.