Teenager wins freestyle contest despite injury

Even while nursing a broken leg, Maher Ali manages to win a freestyle ball-juggling competition.
Maher Ali shows off his skills with the football.
Maher Ali shows off his skills with the football.

Even while nursing a broken leg, Maher Ali managed to outperform some of the most talented footballers yesterday to win a ball-juggling competition - and a trip to Brazil. Maher, 18, from Abu Dhabi, showed off his skills at the Red Bull Street Style UAE Finals in the Mall of the Emirates with his creative "keepie uppie" moves and ability to keep the ball airborne despite his injuries.

His prize was a trip to Brazil where he will compete in the freestyle football world finals. "I did not expect to win with a broken leg today, but I have trained well and was prepared for the finals," he said. In winning the competition, Maher beat 31 other challengers. Sixteen won through to the second round and eight qualified for the finals. He then topped Abdullah Molvi, a challenger from Dubai, to secure the title and represent the UAE at the world freestylers competition.

The event, which kicks off on Nov 18 in Sao Paulo, will bring together competitors from 49 countries. "It is really a dream to participate at the world finals in Sao Paulo," Maher said. "I fear nobody and I am ready for the next challenge." The freestylers were judged by the UAE football hero Bekhit Saad as well as the Brazilian football coach Marco Aurelio da Cunha. Participants were evaluated on three criteria: control, creativity and style.

Mustapha Ayman, from Dubai, came third in the competition and Bilal Mohammed, who is from Sharjah, finished fourth. mkwong@thenational.ae

Published: August 30, 2008 04:00 AM