Chennai: Chennai based Pradeep's first love was soccer. But after playing as a Winger at league level, he realised his passion is for freestyle football. There was no stopping the 22 year old freestyle footballer since then.
Last month he won the national championship and in September he will represent India at the world freestyle football championship in Italy. Pradeep says "I've only seen other participants online on Youtube. I really don't know about their level. No matter what their level is I'd give my best."
This Commerce graduate puts in six hours of practice every day. He turned down a corporate job so that he could devote all his time for the sport. He explains "the more time we spend with the ball, the more it respects you and listens to you. The ball, when you say come here, it comes. And when you don't spend that much time, it doesn't".
He comes from a middle class family. His father has retired, mother is a home maker and its his brother who supports him. Pradeep is now looking for help to take care of his monthly expenses. His mother Sudha Ramesh says if someone could sponsor "may be ten thousand rupees to take care of his food and clothes every month it would be a huge relief".
Pradeep is also a certified personal trainer, motivating many to take up freestyle football for physical fitness. Pursuing sports other than cricket has always been a challenge in India. And this young national champion requires little public support to emerge world number 1. This Olympic season India could hope for gold not just from London, but from Italy as well.