Freestyle Soccer – Confused on Where to Start?

First of all, let's start with a simple question, what is freestyle soccer? Freestyle soccer is simply the style and ability to combine various soccer tricks in juggling and ground moves. It's a new trend in soccer along with other types like five a side futsal and beach soccer. In a soccer context, freestyle is perceived as less significance to the modern game. However, freestyle soccer does improve a footballer's ability to control the ball.

The ball control is what I perceived as the most important element in soccer before other attributes like fitness and tactics. There's a saying that if you can control the ball you can control the game. In fact, I stumbled one of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's, an Inter Milan player, quotes saying that as long as you have the ball, you'll have the advantage. Yet majority of footballers still ignore the importance of freestyle soccer. There are reasons behind it and one of them is that the soccer tricks are difficult to execute and only brings less to the modern game. True enough, but let's not forget the concept of ball control. Learning freestyle allows a player to enhance his touches especially the first touch. A great first touch buys you thousands of mili seconds to give you an edge over the opposition.

Those seconds could change the game in an instant especially in the modern game where it demands fast and furious soccer. As a result of those reasons, they don't even bother in the first place. On the other side, the ones who love freestyle soccer perceived it as something that they can express their creativity and improve on ball control and touches to a greater heights. But I'm more concern to those who are ignorant and may not have the slightest interest on freestyle soccer. The problem is, they may not know where to begin especially after watching a series of freestyle videos on streaming sites like YouTube. I'm assuming that they only watched the difficult tricks and instead forget the basics of freestyle soccer. I believe that freestyle soccer should begin with the basics like juggling and planting before moving on to the more advanced soccer tricks like the around the world, crossover, flip flap and others. It's important since juggling is the principle of all types of ball control along with dribbling. In this case, I shall focus on juggling since it's related to freestyle soccer.

Juggling the ball

Simply done by doing kick ups without letting the ball fall on to the ground and expanded to different parts of the body from foot, thigh, shoulder and head. The aim is to be able to link your juggling skills from one part to the other. For example, transfer your juggling from foot to your thigh. You can start with a simple transfer and improve to more advanced transfers like juggling from foot to thigh and then head. Once you've mastered juggling, you can start planting or stalling a soccer ball.

Planting the ball

The ability to balance the ball on a specific part of your body like balancing the ball on your foot. You can start by placing the ball on your foot and once you've mastered, you can plant the ball during your juggling. For example, juggle with your foot which is then transferred to your thigh and then balance it with your foot ie foot plant. Focus on these two abilities will help build confidence for you to start on learning some of the basic freestyle soccer tricks. Improving your juggling and planting skills increases your coordination abilities especially when you practice your transferring or linking skills. For this one, I'd recommend the around the world trick because it's the principle of all soccer tricks. Once you've mastered this trick, you have a great chance of doing other tough soccer tricks like the MATW, TATW, crossover etc. The trick is simply to rotate your foot around the ball after either juggling or footplant and kick it as you finish the rotation to complete the process.

These are a couple of basics that you'd need to constantly bear in mind. Similar to soccer, the techniques are very important and I highly encourage you to practice these tricks with a lot of dedication and once mastered, you'll begin to appreciate the beauty of freestyle soccer.

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Soccer Cleats for HG, FG and SG. What’s the Difference?

Almost every model of soccer cleats is made to be suitable for a different field condition.

HG (hard ground)- for playing on hard surfaces.

FG (firm ground) – for playing on firm surfaces.

SG (soft ground) – for playing on soft surfaces.

Why is it important to have the right soccer cleats for different types of field?

In order to play soccer to your best abilities, you have to have soccer cleats. For several reasons but the most important is: traction. The studs will prevent you from slipping, giving you opportunity to turn, stop and accelerate with ease.

In order to achieve it, soccer cleats outsole (bottom part of the shoe) has several hard rubber, plastic or metal studs that sink into the surface providing a good grip. But the studs have to be long enough to offer good traction and short enough not to cause discomfort from applying too much pressure on the feet.

In other words, the length of the studs and their count depends on types of the surface they would be the most adequate for.

It basically means that soccer cleats for HARD GROUND (surface) have short studs. They provide you with enough amount of traction but at this same time they don’t apply too much pressure on your feet causing discomfort when your cleats are unable to dig into hard ground. If you play on very hard fields, Turf shoes (cleats – TF) would be your best choice.

SOFT GROUND (SG) cleats come with removable (in most cases) studs. There are few different lengths of the studs for different conditions of soft fields (soft and wet for example), so you can adjust them properly.

FIRM GROUND (FG) cleats are the most universal. FG cleats are good for all field types without going to extreme (very hard and very soft). Of course they are the most adequate for fields with the firm surface (something between hard and soft). But if you play on different types of fields and can’t afford to have two or three types of soccer cleats, the FG is probably the most ultimate choice.

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Coffee Culture In 2016

Like most cultures, coffee culture is no different really. A group of people brought together by a common interest. What better place than a coffee shop. There is always a buzz, and hive of activity. It attracts in some ways, so many like minded people, and in other ways such a variety. From businessmen, to housewives, students to teachers. Hundreds of years ago, they were popular meeting places for artists. A few years ago, Wine Masters were popping up everywhere, and now the latest trend seems to be becoming a Barrister. We were fortunate enough to be able to interview Winston, one of the top up and coming Barristers in the Country.

These days no matter where I am, or what I am doing, coffee seems to be screaming out at me! Coffee culture, coffee culture! Most people have coffee making machines, and there are shops dedicated to selling only coffee. We are so spoilt for choice, that it is difficult to know which coffee to drink, when, where and why? I am attending a Barristers course early next month, and will be back with loads more information on what all the different coffee beans are, and how to choose between them.

Meanwhile, not sure about you, but I am getting extremely confused between the different ways to drink coffee. Gone are the days when we only had the choice between an espresso and a cappuccino. And worse still, when I grew up, we either had instant or percolated coffee. Now we have a whole range of ways to drink our coffee:

– Latte: A coffee mixed with a frothed milk foam.

– Americana: Made by adding hot water to a mug with a tot of espresso coffee in it.

– Iced Coffee: Chilled coffee with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

– Cappuccino: A cup of coffee covered in a layer of frothed milk foam.

– Skinny Cappuccino. The same as a cappuccino, but made with fat free milk.

– Flat white: A cup of coffee with milk.

– Espresso: Extremely strong, and dense, with «crema» (coffee foam on the top). Hence, café crema being an alternative name for an Italian espresso.

– Macchiato: A cup of frothed milk, filled up with an espresso coffee.

– Moccachino: A café latte with chocolate added to it.

– Frappe. A coffee with ice, served black or white.

And to make coffee even more enticing, many Countries around the world have their own special coffees, such as:

Caffe Au Lait: France

Egg Coffee: Vietnam

Turkish Coffee: Turkey

Café Bombon: Spain

Café Cubana: Cuba

Wiener: Vienna

Palazzo: USA

Caffe De Ola: Mexico

To top it off we have alcoholic coffee drinks, like an Irish coffee, Bavarian coffee, Café royal, Kalua coffee, and even coffee liquors.

I have to say that my favourite is still a cappuccino. It has to be made with the best quality coffee beans, and brimming over the top of the mug with foam. If you can convince me otherwise, please share with me the way you love your coffee.

Winston’s Interview..

How did you get involved with espresso coffee. How did it all start?

Without romanticizing too much, there was a complaint in my local newspaper about the bad coffee served in my town. That was about 5 years ago. After reading that I started tasting different coffees trying to figure out what a good cup of coffee really was. This eventually led me to Origin Coffee Roasting where I did a barista course while studying in 2013. I worked part time at a roaster in Somerset West and a market in Woodstock until I completed my studies in June 2014. I started working full time at Origin in August 2014.

What makes you continue to work as a barista? Is the job repetitious?

No it’s not repetitious. It may seem that way because, on the opposite end of the bar, it looks like we’re just pouring coffee every day but that’s far from it. We’re using different coffees every day so there’s a lot of tasting involved, the weather is always changing which means the coffee pours differently throughout the day so we have to work accordingly, we meet different people every day, face different challenges on a daily basis etc. So far from repetitious. And that’s exactly why I continue to work as a barista.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I find my inspiration by looking at all the people involved in the coffee cycle. From the farmer, to the green coffee buyer, the roaster, barista and finally the consumer. To know that I play a role in this process gives me the inspiration to try my hardest to serve the best cup of coffee possible. To justice to those who have played their part before me.

What is the new «in» in the current coffee industry?

To be honest I think that quality has become the new «in» in the coffee industry. More and more café are trying to produce better coffee, which makes things very competitive in terms of quality. This drives the industry in a positive direction. More cafés are also beginning to use alternative or filter brew methods like the aeropress and v60 pourover to make filter coffee. This is best enjoyed black without sugar to ensure that the nuisances and characteristics of the coffee can be picked up.

What kind of coffee do you like/not like to make

I like making all kinds of coffee. There is espresso based coffees like your typical Americano and latte and there is filter brew like the French press or aeropress. I can’t say I dislike making certain types of coffees but I do sometimes cringe when customers want an unusual order that takes away the emphasis of the coffee. For example a large milk based with a single shot and soya milk will completely overshadow the flavor of the coffee. But at the end of the day coffee is subjective and we cannot tell the customers what it is they like or dislike, we can only give advice and hopefully guide them.

What is the most time consuming coffee to make?

I’d say the filter methods we use in our café is the most time consuming. The French press takes about 5 minutes to complete. Whereas espresso based takes roughly 2 minutes.

What can you tell me about Coffee Culture?

Coffee Culture. Where do I start? Well right now in the coffee industry (worldwide) we’re experiencing what we call «Third wave.» «First wave» would be defined as the way our parents might’ve had their coffee. Instant coffee or a dark roasted Italian blend in the household filter machine. There was no real coffee or café culture. Then, with the arrival of Starbucks and other commercial coffee chains, the «Second wave» of coffee individuals evolved. People became more aware of what they were drinking and the trend of takeaway espresso based drinks like lattes and cappuccinos started.

Right now we’re experiencing «Third wave» where people in the coffee have become more conscious of the quality of the coffee they buy. Some companies going as far as establishing direct trade with farmers so they contribute to improving farming methods, exporting etc.

Green coffee beans are roasted with precision and a lot of care is taken in preparing both espresso based and filter drinks. Along with this, consumers are also conscious of the quality of coffee in cafes. Consumers know what they want when buying coffee, more so than before. And they are also a lot more educated. Because of this you find more cafes opening and more consumers visiting cafes thus a growing café culture. Bigger than before.

Tell me about the competitions you have won and what lies ahead for you.

Most recently I’ve won the South African National Aeropress title. The aeropress is basically a filtering device used to make coffee. And I won the national competition so I’ll be competing in the World Aeropress championships in Dublin, Ireland in June. I also came 2nd in the Western Cape Barista competition and 8th in the National Barista competition. In the future I’d like to enter more competitions with the goal of winning and competing at the World Barista Competition.

Your dream?

My dream is to put Africa on the map for coffee. As a continent we produce some of the best tasting coffees in the world but, other than in South Africa, we don’t necessarily serve this as it should be served. Most of the high quality coffee produced in Africa is exported and lower grade commercial coffees are left. I’d like to change this. Coffee was founded in Africa so I feel that we have a responsibility to be serving the best tasting African coffees in our cafes.

Germany Argentina – World Cup Football at Its Best – I Know Who Wins

Football Wins.

Germany Argentina is a mouth-watering football match that is fit for a world cup final let alone a quarter final. Germany has a young expansive team against Argentina’s multi-talented mix of seasoned world beaters.

England were well and truly taken apart in Round two against this exciting German side with the talented Ozil at the centre of most things good, Thomas Mueller also impressed during that match.

At the other end the Argie’s will be confident of unleashing Lionel Messi on a shaky back four as well as the other attackers such as Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Diego Milito. The top scorer is of course Higuain and i expect him to start this match.

So where will this match be won and lost?

Of the two nations it appears Argentina have the better organised system and more power in attack. Much like Brazil they play two holding midfield players and three advanced midfielders in front supporting the main striker, allowing the likes of Messi to roam in any position which spells danger for the Germans as Lionel Messi is due a World Cup goal.

Germany will hope there height from set pieces will count as only Demichelas can perform well in the air against such tall players. Germany play with three attackers in Podolski, Klose and Ozil however in this match i expect them to form a 4-5-1 for most of the match and counter attack as they did against England.

I expect errors in the German back-line which Argentina will almost certainly punish should it happen.

Key Players

Lionel Messi – Needs no introduction, with his roaming role like his Argentina legend Manager Diego Maradona once had he terrorises defences. Expect him to score or set one of the goals up in this match.

Mascherano – One of those un-sung hero’s that allow star players to win games, will sit deep and cut out the counter attacking forces.

Ozil – One of the players that can do something special and his stock is rising game by game, when he learns how to finish the chances he creates, his goal tally will rise.

If you like to place bets on football matches i suggest for both teams to score however an Argentina win in 90 minutes. As a side bet it would be Lionel Messi to score at any time during the match.

Overall Verdict – Entertaining Argentina Win 3-2.