Meet Football Freestyler Lia Lewis
To celebrate the launch of our collaboration with Lotto, we caught up with football freestyler and dancer Lia Lewis. We asked her all about her career, her fave Lotto pieces and more.
Do you think your dance skills give you an advantage when performing football tricks?
I think having gained a good flexibility through dancing definitely helps me with certain tricks, especially acrobatic tricks. I suppose being a dancer makes freestyle look a bit more gracious too. However, freestyle football and dance are two very different sports. In dance you mainly use your upper body whereas in freestyle you use your feet.
When did you realise you had a talent for football tricks? And what made you pursue it as a career option?
Honestly, I believed I had a freestyle football talent from the very first day I started as my friend who coached me, always told me how amazing I was and how fast I was learning. So even though I was probably terrible at freestyle football, my friend made me believe that I was good which pushed me to train every day and improve. I don’t believe you need to have a particular ‘talent’ in freestyle football to be good. In my opinion it’s all about self-belief, perseverance, motivation and passion. Anyone can learn freestyle football!
What does your typical day look like? How do you train for your performances?
As well as being a professional freestyler and dancer, I also work full time in a children’s fitness center. So my typical day would be going to work at 7:30am, finishing at 6:30pm and freestyling in the gym until 10pm. Sometimes I alternate with taking dance classes instead of freestyle training depending on how I feel. When I have a performance coming up, I will switch my training session to suit. I focus on all-round training instead of just one style so that I can perform a wide variety of tricks.
What has been your greatest success/most exciting performance to date?
My greatest freestyle achievement would be to have had the courage to pick up a ball at the age of 21 and put my 18 years of dance experience to one side. My most exciting performance was probably performing at Wembley stadium for the sold out women’s England vs Germany football game in November 2019.
Do you have any signature tricks?
My signature freestyle trick is the L-wheel ( a one handed cartwheel with the ball)
What advice would you give to beginners, especially female, wanting to get into football freestyle?
My advice to anyone wanting to start freestyle football would be, don’t be scared of being a beginner. People say life is too short but in actual fact, life is really long. Take your time, enjoy learning new skills and challenging yourself, don’t compare yourself to anyone else and be selfish for once! With freestyle football you are in charge, there’s no right or wrong.
Do gender stereotypes still exist in the freestyle football world? If yes, how do you deal with them?
I do believe gender stereotyping still exists more so around the football side of it as freestyle is a new sport and not many people know of it or understand it. To me, freestyle football feels like more of a community where gender doesn’t matter. Maybe I’m naive or just too busy to worry about other people’s opinions of me doing tricks with a football. I have never considered myself as different because I’m a girl, my only ever concern is to train hard and keep pushing my level to a higher standard. Both men and women have equal abilities in freestyle so there is no better than the other.
What do you think of the Lotto X Primark collection?
I like the vibrancy of the Lotto X Primark outfits. I think they are daring and bold.
What are the ideal items of clothing for you to wear when you’re doing your tricks?
Usually when I freestyle, I train with a grip ball so I can wear leggings or joggers. If I alternate with a match ball for instance, then I will have to wear shorts and a tight fitting top. I try and avoid high socks and I prefer having a bun rather than a ponytail so my hair doesn’t whip in my face.
Do you have a favourite item from the collection?
I like the head to toe pink outfit. I’m all for flashy colours!
If you could only dance or do football tricks for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?
If I could only pick between freestyle football and dance for the rest of my life, I would chose to combine freestyle with dance...