Sean Garnier: 'Freestyle is an expression of yourself'

For Sean, freestyle is not something that can be defined or categorised. It’s just an expression.

Sean Garnier says freestyle and futsal are two different things but he uses his freestyle mind in futsal.   -  R. Ragu

Sean Garnier is one of the biggest names in the world of freestyle football. He is a two-time world champion. But it could all have been so different for the 32-year-old who started out as a professional player and was a part of French club Auxerre’s academy.

“I was in the academy with Guy Roux; I was picked because of my technique but the problem was that when you are a small guy with technique, they always tackle you and try to break your body,” Sean says.

All the heavy tackling took its toll on his body and his career was cut short by injuries. “It broke my body, especially my back and knees and no one could make me recover fast and good,” he adds.

But that didn’t deter his spirit or his love of the game of football, he admits. “I always enjoyed playing football, playing everywhere in my room and with my parents, that’s why even though I’m a freestyler I can play.”

For Sean, freestyle is not something that can be defined or categorised. It’s just an expression. “Freestyle is an expression of yourself, it’s not a sport. You can freestyle with anything; with your body, with a skateboard, I do it with a ball. I use it to express myself outside football,” the Frenchman adds.

Sean’s advice to anyone who wishes to be a freestyle footballer is to practise. “Practise everyday and meet as many people as possible, try to learn something everyday. I have learned that if I repeat my moves only then can I perfect them.”

He says freestyle and futsal are two different things but he uses his freestyle mind in futsal. The key, according to him, is to know which trick can be used in a particular situation.

Sean also has his own team called the S3 which stands for Street Style Society, “In S3 we decided to mix football, basketball and dance together. We wanted to mix different elements because freestyle isn’t just about football so why limit yourself?”

S3 now performs live shows around the world.

Sean has performed around the world and shared stage with the likes of Pele, Maradona, Neymar and a number of other international stars. But when asked about his most memorable moment, he almost instantly replies, “My most memorable moment was when Edgar Davids raised my hand when I became the World Champion at the 2008 Red Bull Street Style Championship, Sao Paulo. At that time I hadn’t achieved anything in my life. I was just a guy who played in the street everyday and to get this recognition was a huge success.”

Red Bull Street Style Championship is a freestyle world championship which was first held in 2008. Sean won the competition defeating 42 other freestylers from around the world. The Football book defines Freestyle football as an art of self-expression with a football, which is done performing tricks with any part of the body.

Sean is in India playing in the Premier futsal league, but this isn’t his first visit to the country. He has performed in Delhi and Bengaluru before. “Every time I visited India, it has been crazy especially the connection with the crowd. First time I performed in New Delhi was for an ESPN show and when I did my first move I thought the stadium was gonna explode."

His connection was seen in Chennai as well, where he was mobbed by fans for autographs and photographs. He tried to oblige all of them.