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Zac Roberts | Freestyle Football

Words: Good Sport

Images: Ben Clement

Zac Roberts, 18 years old and crushing it in the world of Freestyle Football. He’s a few months deep into being a Marketing student at RMIT University and has a passion for the creative mediums, Fashion and Film.  He grew up 3 hours out of Melbourne in the Country Victoria area of-Gippsland. He’s the current Freestyle Football Champion of Victoria and is employed by Australia’s leading football entertainment company ‘Trick Star Football’. On top of this he’s an Adidas ambassador. Good Sport spent the afternoon with Zac and his football, chatting about overcoming challenges, cheap eats, music and if it’s really all or nothing.

What is your mantra?

“You can put a cat in the oven, but that don’t make it a biscuit” I genuinely still have minimal understanding of what it actually means but I am sure it is super meaningful and relevant to just about anything. It basically just makes me smile and who doesn’t like being happy!

Childhood moment that put you where you are now?

Definitely co-founding a street football community with a very good friend of mine Frank Capurso, called BOSS (Band Of Street Soccer). It was targeted towards engaging youth in a healthy and creative environment centred around sport. I was incredibly fortunate to have had Frank who although rarely having played football previously was probably more enthusiastic than myself. It is certainly because of Frank, both our sets of parents and our friends that supported the initiative that I have the opportunities I have now.

What are you thinking about the night before an event?

I am probably thinking about what I am going to wear, not in a vein way but I just get very excited about putting on clothes. For me that is one of the beautiful things that differentiates Freestyle Football from traditional Football is that individuals can be unique in their appearance as well as their style of performing unlike regular Football where teams look like an army going to battle, and although I can understand the appeal of looking professional and fitting in with a team it can be occasionally refreshing to differentiate yourself from a larger cohort especially at my age.

What keeps you up at night? 

Mostly my love for cinema and film or singing Frank Ocean lyrics in my head. But when I am under pressure such as finishing an assignment or resting before a show it is definitely a fear of failure that keeps me up. This may not be literally failing an assignment or physically not making it to a performance but just minor mistakes that appear large in my mind especially when it comes to sleep as a result of my own expectations being unnecessarily high.

Ultimate post event meal

Currently as I live away from home and don’t have my incredible parents cooking beautiful meals for me I am basically a walking advertisement for cheap eats Melbourne. However, I definitely have to give a shout out to Crossways Hare Krishna restaurant. Personally I am not Vegetarian or Hare Krishna although not due to a lack of attempted conversion but basically I eat anything, so $5.95 is pretty sweet for a chickpea and lentil rich all you can eat feast.

What is your coach or mentor continuously telling you?

My mentor for just about anything sports or business related is my father Gavin Roberts. From coaching my soccer team from the age of 6 until I was 16 which involved a solid 10 years of him attempting to explain the benefits of passing the ball to teammates rather than trying to beat every player on the opposing team or explain why it could occasionally be a good idea to shoot from outside the box rather than dribble in and dive on the ground for a penalty. I can only imagine how frustrating it must have been as a coach and father watching me not take this advice for 10 years before deciding to quit soccer all together to become a glorified circus act where I couldn’t be told to stop holding the ball or shoot from outside the box ever again.

Is it really all or nothing?

It is never all or nothing as I firmly believe in the importance of not pigeonholing yourself in one sporting or creative medium and disregarding the rest. I also believe that other opportunities will present themselves depending on a variety of factors not just on whether you come out on top in a competition or not. Saying that sometimes I wish I could adopt this attitude as just possessing that mindset can definitely improve performance.

What ‘sports’ person would you want to get breakfast with

It would have to be Ronaldinho and breakfast would hopefully eventuate into a Freestyle Football jam session followed by a Brazilian samba dance off.

Last three albums you listened to…

The Internet – Ego Death
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
Flying Lotus – Captain Murphy (Duality)

If you could change one thing about a piece of equipment you use, what would it be.

I am already incredibly particular in regards to the equipment I use for Freestyle Football and the sports market is almost saturated with footwear and accessories to the point where I don’t believe we need to change anything but instead just be more selective with the equipment we use. Sportswear manufacturers are constantly working in cycles which is understandable and entails remaking the same sports equipment but it is great to see a company such as Adidas attempting to be more proactive and avant-garde to appeal towards and capture these smaller alternative sporting facets such as Freestyle Football that only exists due to experimentation.

Best Sporting related film…

This is difficult as my interest in film usually stays clear of sports only because the sports that are chosen to act as the substance for a feature film are often very traditional sports such as Soccer, American Football or Basketball that being so conventional in their styles can often restrain a film that personally I believe as an artistic medium with the ability expand viewers imaginations and immerse them into new realities has so much more potential than to document a sport that an audience can go out and play or watch live on a Sunday. Saying that I do like ‘Cool Runnings’ and would love to see other smaller sports and athletes make it to the cinema.

What interests you most about Freestyle Football?

It is definitely the freedom that appeals most to myself and many others that engage in the sport and although cliché it is definitely the fact that Freestyle Football is a sport where you can create without limits, without right or wrong and without people’s perceptions and judgements getting in the way of your own performance that in Freestyle Football is solely your won. In essence it can appear that Freestyle Football is a great fun collaborative environment which majority of the time it is. However, there is also a lot of loneliness, pressure and self-expectation that training in such an open-ended and contemporary sport such as Freestyle Football entails and relies heavily on human motivation.


And lastly, something that needs to change within Freestyle Football?

I would like to see athletes in Freestyle Football gain a greater appreciation for style and enjoyment rather than just who can do the most difficult hardcore lower body tricks, it is important that Freestyle as a sporting entity doesn’t water itself down and maintains its creativity and flare which is really its reason for existence. It is important in Freestyle Football that there doesn’t become a right and wrong way of being a Freestyler or Freestyling in a sport where anything should be accepted and appreciated.