Nam “the Man” Ngueyen is an Ireland-based freestyler of Vietnamese origin. He has performed at many top-level football games, including Chelsea vs Arsenal. Nam is also a two-times finalist of the Nike Freestyle competition. He teaches his skills at FAI Pepsi Summer Soccer Camps in Ireland and is also actively involved with SARI (Sport Against Racism Ireland). Check out what Nam’s been up to at freestylesoccereire.com.
How did you get into freestyling?
I started to freestyle late in my teens. I was very interested in soccer, which I still am, but it was when I saw a commercial with Ronaldinho and other players doing tricks with the ball that the subject strongly attracted my attention. I thought they were camera tricks at first, but then when I saw some tricks done in person by others and I began to practice. Since then, I’ve only looked forward and improving my freestyle.
How often and what do you practice as a freestyler?
I would practice every day for at least one hour and at max three hours. I love it, especially when I challenge myself to realise a trick that I have created in my mind. I practice juggling with many part of the body, also I spend countless hours working on balancing the ball. But each of my practice sessions must include executing all the moves that I can, from simple to difficult.
What is the most important quality that every freestyler should possess?
Determination is a must! You can practice and practice, but you must want to be able to do it and get better at it. Otherwise, you won’t improve. For example, you can’t do one trick or move so you decide to leave it… it’s bad practice and I feel that it shows that you’re a quitter. In addition to determination, I believe that patience is another important quality that every freestyler should have.
Any tips for a youngster who is eager to learn a new trick? How should one go about it?
Watch videos that exist on the Internet. Freestyle videos are the best source for learning new tricks. Whatever the trick is, watch it being performed by one freestyler, analyse it visually, then compare the same move done by another freestyler in another video. First, try to “ghost freestyle” or do the movement of the trick without the ball so you can get used to the coordination. Then, include the ball and practice. Ask for tips from freestylers or people that you know can do the trick. Don’t be afraid to ask, if you really want to learn you must have the desire to achieve results. As I said earlier, be determined.
What impresses you the most, and who do you consider a great freestyler?
What impresses me the most is creativity. There are so many tricks that you can create, you just need time to be able to realise them. In my video “Nam the Man 2”, the introduction move, where I keep up the ball and then do a back flip up to head the ball again. That move was only an idea that I imagined and thought was realisable, so I tried to do it until I finally got it. This is how freestyle improves, when freestylers create new moves that no one else has ever done before. Everyone can then try it, because it was already proven that it can be done.
Who do I consider a great freestyler? Hmmm, I can only say that within the top 3 freestylers on my list would be Mr. Woo. I feel that he has put a lot of work into freestyle, in terms of creating and realising new tricks, such as the sole balance and bicycle (sole juggling.) It took me almost 6 months to be able to sole juggle and also 7 months to do the sole balance. So try imagining a trick or move that no one has ever done before and then practice until you pull it off yourself.
How do you stay aware of the latest events and happening in the freestyle community?
I would visit freestyle-related sites and follow links to other sites, check up on message boards, guest books, e-mail fellow freestylers and etc. That’s how I do it.
What is the strangest or funniest reaction someone had upon seeing you freestyle?
This hot girl was watching me and her response to my freestyle was always verbal, nothing bad, just impressed comments. She got a lot of attention from the crowd and they focused on her reaction every time I did a trick, until I did a move call the “magnetic.” She took a mouthful of a soft drink at that very moment… and showered the guy sitting in front of her with the soda spewing from her nostrils! Everyone went crazy in laughter and I had to stop freestylin’ because I was in bits also! She stopped talking and ran off crying in embarrassment.