by Owen Tonks
Preparing for the London marathon seems like a daunting task. Endless hours of training, foregoing your daily routine and creature comforts in the name of complete dedication and dealing with the pressure of completing the iconic event. To me, this seems like an impossible task but freestyle footballer John Farnworth has other ideas. He is planning to kick and juggle a football around the 26 mile course to raise money for Kick4Life (www.kick4life.org), a charity supporting disadvantaged children in Africa.
Whilst this would be a difficult challenge for most people, John is used to putting himself under pressure. He holds four Guinness World Records, has performed on television, at football matches and at the birthday party of Premiership Football player Ruud van Nistleroy.
For John, freestyle football is more than a hobby and a job, it’s a passion: “Football freestyle is an art form as it’s a way of expressing yourself with a football. It’s amazing to be a professional football freestyler as it’s a job that I love and provides me with the opportunity to travel the world and meet some incredible and inspirational people. I feel very privileged to be in my position.”
John first stumbled across freestyle at the age of 14 and says he “thought it was camera trickery and just an illusion” but with practice and “years of hard work and determination” he built up a reputation for himself. He says: “I started doing small shows and working in schools and built my brand up gradually. Then Manchester United signed up as one of my first clients, which was like a dream come true as it’s biggest club in the world and my favourite football team.”
Since then, John has performed at former Manchester United player Ruud van Nistleroy’s birthday party and made it to the final stages of Britain’s Got Talent in 2009. Performing at a party full of the world’s best footballers is one thing but being judged by Simon Cowell is a little more stressful: “It was a massive honour to be recognised and invited by one of the best footballers in the world but Britain’s Got Talent was pretty nerve wracking and scary. When I was waiting to go on stage the buzzers were really loud but the crowd loved the performance and I made it through the final 100.”
The world record holder is no stranger to challenges but even he admits his latest ambition is going to be difficult: “I’ve had to alter my usual training slightly, which means I concentrate more on moving and juggling rather than lots of tricks. I am also working on my fitness too, as the 26.2 mile route is going to be tough.”
However, John is putting these difficulties aside and is hoping to raise £50,000 for Kick4Life. He says: “I have worked with Kick4Life (www.kick4life.org) in the past and know what an incredible difference the charity makes to the lives of young people in southern Africa. I really wanted to do a challenge that would push me to the max, raise money for the charity and maybe break a world record too.”
To support Kick4Life and sponsor John as he attempts this challenge please dig deep and visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/freestylemarathon