Alice Fougeray is a freestyle footballer from Nice, France. A former player in the OGC Nice women’s team, Alice had the ambition to become a professional. Her dream quickly turned into a nightmare when she had a severe ankle injury.
Yet, she decided to find comfort through another footballing creative path, that of freestyle football.
Zushan Hashmi: Tell me about the very beginning, where and how did you fall in love with the game of football?
Alice Fougeray: I always loved playing football when I was younger. I watched the games in France on TV. In school, I liked to show boys that I could be better than them.
When you were playing for the Nice women’s team an injury ended your hopes of playing professional football, what was that like, initially, to realise you won’t play the game?
It was very hard physically and mentally. I got very depressed and gained weight. But one dream ended to start another.
How did you overcome that to eventually play freestyle football and succeed so well at it?
I no longer wanted to be in this state of ill-being. I wanted to succeed and do what I love, to be happy. I worked hard despite the pain and I never gave up. It required a lot of discipline.
How is freestyle football as a career? It is of course very different from the 11-a-side game.
Yes, it is very different! I feel free, there are no rules. You are alone with your ball, you can do anything you want. And what a feeling it is! When you are doing the show for people, you share emotions and I love it.
How has your transition into this side of the sport of football been?
I used to practice already freestyling when I was a football player so the transition was not really hard. I mean it was not new for me, but it was hard to get back in shape and overcome my disability.
What have been some of your favourite moments in your career? Why?
When I met France legend, Zinedine Zidane during my show! And of course in Japan when I became vice world champion. Dreams do come true.
What has it been like to compete in freestyle football competitions around the world and with big brands like Redbull and Nike?
I would just like to say that this is happiness. Work pays off and I’m proud.
Do you think female freestyle footballers receive the same support as the men? Why/why not?
I feel that females are becoming more and more important over time. We deserve more, of course, but the growth is already surprising.
Tell me a little bit about the very exciting social media video you were a part of in 2015 where you schooled several male players with your football tricks and techniques? What was that experience like
Are you talking about the video where I am disguised as a grandmother? [laughs] it was a great experience. I love to travel and do what I love. This video was staged and it was very fun.
What does your training, fitness and diet regime involve?
Healthy eating, muscle building, cold showers and meditation. I take care of my body and my mind. It’s very important!
What do you say to young women in France who want to start playing freestyle football, but are demotivated for some reason or the other?
When we are in our place and we do what we are passionate about, we are motivated. If you are not motivated, this is not for you.