A little more than three years ago Thomas Kentta started honing an array of football tricks to impress friends and teammates on the pitch, but quickly realised his silky smooth skills could lead him down a different path.
The Woonona resident was playing in first division for Russell Vale Football Club at the time when he opted to give the game away to chase a career as a freestyle footballer.
“I was playing soccer and wanted to show off to my friends really but then as I watched more videos and saw what else you could do I got more interested in it,” Kentta explains.
As I watched more videos and saw what else you could do I got more interested in it
“I obviously prefer freestyle more than soccer now and take it more seriously.
“I have slowly built up from there.”
Kentta now trains for more than six hours a day, seven days a week.
The rigorous training regime is all part of the skillful rising star’s dream to break onto the elite world tour circuit.
Once he achieves that goal, Kentta is hoping to reach lofty heights in the new sport.
“My aim is to win the World Championship and go professional,” he said.
“That’s why I train so much because I have to catch up to other people who have been doing it longer.
“I want to be the best in the world, live off it and help the sport grow.”
Kentta travelled to Melbourne earlier this week to compete at the Oceania Freestyle Football Championships.
He finished fourth at the Australian Championships in April earlier this year and is targeting another high finish in the Victorian capital in a bid to boost his ranking.
“After finishing fourth at the Australian titles, I got some ranking points but I am required to win this to make it on the World Tour,” Kentta said.
“If I win it I will almost certainly be on the world tour next year.”
The Oceania Championships will take place alongside an event of the Female Freestyle World Championships on Friday at Etihad Stadium.
The following day the same venue will play host to the final leg of this year’s Men’s Freestyle World Championships.
UK-born tour leader Andrew Henderson will compete in a bid to win his fifth world title.