The Asian Freestyle Football Championship (AFFC) is the preeminent freestyle competition in Asia. This year, the event featured 31 participants from Japan, China, Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Iran, Hong Kong, and Singapore. In the end, the Philippines’ Philip Warren Gertsson (PWG) bested a talented field to clinch the AFFC title.
Two days of competition, 31 competitors, and countless hours of preparation later, the Asian Freestyle Football Federation crowned its 2016 winner on Dec. 10 in Davao, Philippines. Performing amongst a rapt crowd, hometown favorite Philip Warren Gertsson overcame a nagging neck injury to give one of his strongest battles to date against Japan’s creative powerhouse Yo Katsuyama.
“The injury got a little bit better in Davao but I was still not able to do any uppers,” PWG recalled of his physical state going into the AFFC. “In the top 4 battles, I decided to just go for it anyway. The two last battles were the most crucial. Both Ardhi and Yo put up one hell of a fight and I couldn’t hold back anything, even if it would be painful.”
Among the standouts and big upsets included Iran’s Ahmadreza Allameh Falsafi win over reigning AFFC champion Kosuke Takahashi, and performances from Indonesia’s Ardhi Andryadi. “Surprisingly this year we saw A LOT more Japanese and Chinese participation,” said Asian Freestyle Football Federation Secretary General Hoai-Nam Nguyen. “Yo (Japan) impressed us all and made it to the finals but lost to Philippines’ rep PWG.”
PWG is a highly regarded freestyler who has competed in all the major global competitions, including Super Ball, Red Bull Street Style, and the F3 World Tour. He was also a former AFFC champion. “It was quite exhilarating to battle Yo, who is one of my favourite freestylers in the final. And it was leaning towards him until the last round, when I had to bust out a 3-rev combo,” he said. “In the end, it felt like a close call but I was happy I won. Big respect to both Ardhi and Yo for putting up an immense fight.”
Yo’s inspired performance throughout the event is perhaps representative of the high level of freestyle in Japan overall, with more and more athletes combining creativity and artistry with impeccable technique. “A lot of Japanese were competing this year, so I thought it was going to be difficult to win because Japanese level is so high,” said Yo, who at 18 has been freestyling since he was 10 years old. “So I practiced my new own stye and improved my basic skills after Super Ball for the AFFC.”
In addition to a cash prize, the top 3 winners receive official F3 points, and first place will also receive two tickets to any Silk Air destination, and of course the title of the AFFC champion.
“Philippines is a country of 3 B’s (Basketball, Beauty Pageants, and Boxing),” added Nam. “Football was a minor sport but freestyle football really tickled their interests … the crowd were just in awe and since we were in the mall, the noise resonated throughout it, the largest mall in Philippines in fact (SM Lanang mall). Shoppers were stopped in their quest for gift shopping so the mall extended their opening hours. The atmosphere was the best of all the AFFC past years!”
For more information about the AFFC, visit their Facebook page here.