Published: 01st March 2019
This Mexican freestyle footballer is travelling across India, teaching and juggling footballs
Paloma Pujol Mayo talks about how freestyle football became her way of life and how this India tour is going to help her inspire freestyle footballers in India
As I reminisce the days when I would go to the circus with my mom and dad, I distinctly remember the then-famous jugglers. I was always fascinated by their ability to juggle multiple skittles in one go. It was only as I grew up that I started following football. But I was still oblivious to freestyling in football. So when I heard about Paloma Pujol Mayo, a freestyle footballer from Mexico, based in Spain, I checked out her Instagram page and was awestruck with her hand, leg and body coordination. The precision with which she juggles a football is beyond comparison.
My father got me admitted to a men’s football team in Mexico, because women’s football was not supported in the country. I even changed my name just to be a part of a football team. That’s how much I love the sport
Paloma Pujol Mayo, Freestyle Footballer
Did she always know that she wanted to be a freestyle footballer? Did she always have it in here? How did she land in India? When I bombarded her with these questions, she patiently answered them. "I was born in Mexico and I was raised there for twelve long years, after which I moved to Spain with my family. I got acquainted a lot more to football when I was staying in Spain. Football is not just constrained to culture in Spain, it's a way of life. I am 32 years old and I love football just as much as I did when I first started off," Paloma says.
How did freestyle become Paloma's way of life? She delightfully explains, "I remember the first time I ever had a ball. I was 10 and it was a gift from my father. I used to play on my own kicking the ball back an forth against a wall and that is where the seed was sown. But, Mexico was not really supportive of women playing football -- so my father got me admitted with a men's football team in Mexico because I looked like a guy and we also changed my name to a more masculine one," she laughs and continues, "but when I got to Spain everything just got better for me.
Footballer: Esther González Rodrigues is Paloma's favourite footballer
Once Spain played its part in equipping her, there was no stopping her, she goes on to explain how she got into freestyle, " Once you have the love and passion for football, everything about it is just intriguing. The fact that you can use any part of the body to play ball with is pretty amazing. It is also amazing that 'all the world is your stage' quite literally. From using your head to juggle the ball to use the floor as a prop in the midst of juggling, the number of possible juggles and tricks are countless." I happened to ask her how many tricks she had mastered over the years and she simply replies, "I don't count."
Freestyle player: Aguska Mnich is Paloma's ideal idol in freestyle football
Recently Paloma has been travelling across different cities in India training different people on freestyle football and in a very excited tone she explains of her journey so far, "I was called to come here for a span of two months and go about training passionate freestyle footballers. I love travelling and without a second thought, I came to India and the experience has been so special to me. I have travelled across eight cities in India and the whole experience for me has just been mind-boggling. There is so much talent here and I really pray this talent grows and excels for the love of the sport."