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EXCLUSIVE: Interview with South African Freestyle Football Champion Jabu Mdaka

20:07 BST 24/06/2021
Jabu Mdaka South African Freestyle Football Champion 2021
The newly crowned national freestyle football champion will now set his sight on the global event scheduled for Spain in October

On 21 June 2022, Jabu ‘Mjepa’ Mdaka won the men’s official 2021 South African Freestyle Football Championships title, the first national win for Mdaka.

And for the Soweto native, the title was also a redemption, as he had finished tantalizingly close to the crown as the runner-up in 2018 and 2019.

Fresh from the podium and still dusted with confetti, Mdaka shared his thoughts and emotions.

''This means a lot to me and pretty [much], it shows that I’ve been working hard, even though I was injured during the competition,'' Mdaka told Goal.

''My dream has come. I’ve long wanted to be a South African champion and I am now looking forward to going to the world champs and competing to become a champion.

''From the Top-16 until the final, battling every freestyler was extremely difficult because you come up with different skills and transitions. 

''And going into the final, that was always going to be difficult. And battling Rishaad [Ebrahim] made it worse. Since 2016 I’ve been battling Rishaad and I have a slight edge over him at 4-3 from our battles. But in saying that, he [Rishaad] is the best freestyle footballer I have ever faced. I can simply say he's one of the best freestylers in the world.

Having also recently won the Red Bull Street Style festival, 30-year-old is now scheduled to compete at the global freestyle football event set for Spain in October.

He thanked this event's sponsors Hi-Tec for their continued support of the evolving sport which has opened doors for local athletes to compete at international events. 

''I'm still overwhelmed and can't put a lot in words right now, but I am thankful.

''A big thank you to all sponsors and organisers for bringing this sport we love so much alive in our country.

'' Even though it’s a developing sport, keep supporting the sport so that we can inspire the young ones and keep them out of the streets.

'' And to the young ones, don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams.

'' I am hoping that by being a South African champion, this is going to open more doors for me and my career.''