Goal Singapore spoke exclusively with the Guinness record-holder and got the lowdown on how the Italian lass got involved with the sport, and much more“I am loving it,” gushed Laura Biondo about the Lion City. ”It’s very humid, which makes everything very slippery but it’s good, it’s all nice and good.”
This is a girl who will put most guys to shame with her football juggling skills.
Biondo, who hails from Italy, is the current world record holder for four different freestyling football stunts.
Goal Singapore caught up with the 24-year-old for a chat when she was in town for the Tiger Street Football 2013 tournament, which was held at Marina Bay Sands.
Revealing that her favourite trick is the "Clipper", Biondo then proceeded to demonstrate her prowess with the ball in front of the behemoths adorning the skyline of Singapore in the background.
It was a love affair with the ball since Biondo was young, considering her father was doing research that involved improving a ball so that it would aid players’ touches.
“Well I used to play football before and I grew up in a lab that my dad created, a mechanical lab that helps players improve their technique and that’s where I learned my basic technique,” she revealed.
"I never would have imagined I was going to be travelling the world because of this. I mean, I used to see people perform tricks and I was like ‘wow, it would so amazing if I could ever do that’, but I was convinced I was never gonna do it.
“Now I have the [world] records, so it’s not logical!"
However, it was a lucky opportunity that led Biondo on the road to freestyling, as the former aspiring footballer got injured after playing the game for 10 years, thus opening up her path to freestyling glory.
“My brother used to do some freestyle so I was copying him when I was injured, and I met freestylers and I started watching videos and clips [of freestylers],” Biondo recalled.
“I think it was around 2009 when I got called for my first job outside Italy, and then I realised working hard I could actually go around and be an ambassador of this sport, [especially] for the female side of it.
“When I started to do freestyling, I never really thought of breaking freestyle records but I just got contacted by a TV show in Italy that does Guiness records and they said 'hey, we want you to do this record'.
“That’s how I started it and then I got another opportunity because they wanted me to do it again. I wasn’t expecting it, but it just came to me.”
Being in a male-dominated profession, Biondo admitted her pride at being able to provide support to the female community of the freestyling fraternity, though she added that the guys gave credit where it was due.
“What makes me proud about everything is that you [can] inspire other girls, so the fact there are other girls that start freestyling because of me, that’s what really gives me the satisfaction,” Biondo beamed.
“Luckily in freestyle, they do it very correct. When you start something they will give you the credit, if not they will motivate you to do better.
“If they see that you want it and you put in effort, then they will really support you.”
However, Biondo admitted she still faced gender stereotypes at times, though she has learnt to take it positively.
“A lot of males do say sometimes 'you are a girl' and you get called for certain jobs thanks to it (being female),” she revealed.
“They will say it's not fair because you are a girl and tell you to go somewhere else. Sometimes, you get some sort of comments but at the end of the day, sometimes you just have to take it and use it in a constructive way and just make sure it’s not like that.”
Having travelled to many countries, including Germany and the United States, Biondo is not ready to stop what she loves doing most - getting involved in football.
“I do see myself going on with my family project," she said.
"[But] also I want to keep on working for the Federation, which I work [for] now as the freestyle chief ambassador for the females.
“I want to keep on working with that so that I can develop the sport for girls, because we are not many [in numbers], but I am sure we will pick up.
"I just want to be there for those girls and make sure they don’t go through some difficulties that I went through.”