Brought to you by LAFC's Pat Aviles and Vince La Rosa, Word On The Street takes the game off the pitch and onto the streets of Los Angeles. We'll highlight the personalities, hangouts, tournaments, culture, and gear that make up the street soccer scene in LA and keep the game going even when there's no grass in sight.
Hot Gear: FTBLR
If it's worn at the LAFC offices, there's a pretty good chance it'll end up in our "Hot Gear" section at some point.
FTBLR combines clean looks and a passion for the beautiful game. Like LAFC, the brand is committed to growing the game in local communities throughout Southern California. When you rep a FTBLR shirt, hoodie, or hat, 10 percent of the proceeds go directly to non-profits helping underprivileged communities build proper soccer facilities. So look good, and do good.
And they also recently put out a collaboration with "tiny but mighty" Ariana do Santos. If you haven't heard of this talented seven-year-old, do yourself a favor and check out her appearance on Little Big Shots with Steve Harvey. Then get yourself the awesome FTBLR collab seen below.
Tournament Spotlight: Red Bull Neymar Jr. 5v5
Only one tournament is worthy of Neymar Jr.'s name. Presented by Red Bull, 5-a-side teams from over 60 countries will compete to qualify for the chance to play in front of Neymar in the tournament's finals. Open to men and women ages 18 to 25, teams can register to compete in the Los Angeles qualifier on Saturday, April 14 HERE.
All games will be held at the Bell Gardens Sports Center. Winners move on to the national qualifier in Miami with the chance to compete in front of the man himself in Brazil.
Get To Know Lizzy Calderon
Photo - @asteryx - Terry
How did you get started as a freestyler?
I grew up with a soccer ball glued to my foot. Despite years of playing competitive soccer, juggling was a foreign concept to me that was not even the slightest part of my daily routine. My mom dragged me to the Soccer Nation Expo in Los Angeles after one of my soccer games years ago. I walked around aimlessly, not really taking an interest in anything until I heard all this commotion coming from the back of the room. When I got to the booth causing all the buzz, I was stuck in a daze. Keep in mind the only person at that time who I had seen juggle past 10 was my dad, but these L.A. local freestylers were doing handstands with the ball, around the worlds, headstalls, and tricks I had no idea were even possible with a soccer ball. For a whole year, I taught myself how to juggle. I would put my headphones in and juggle for hours at a time. By the time the Soccer Nation Expo came back to Los Angeles the following year, I kept my fingers crossed hoping the freestylers I met the year prior were performing there again. It was then I was introduced and welcomed into a whole new sport and community.
Explain "freestyling" to someone who might not know what it is?
Freestyle is a sport in which athletes are able to freely express themselves with a soccer ball. Freestyle gives you the freedom to create, innovate, and grow without rules or limits. The sport thrives on self-expression, self-discipline, and limitless possibilities branching from all the various styles.
You can put together a 5-a-side team with any players in the world, you’re included on the team, who are the other four players you would choose? And why?
The four players I would choose for a 5-a-side team would be:
Goalkeeper: Paco Sedano
Falcão (Alessandro Rosa Vieira)
Edward Van Gils
What is your go-to freestyle trick? Do you have a signature move?
I do not have a signature move just yet, but my go-to freestyle trick would have to be a short block combo, a dance with the ball between your feet.
What musician/artist is most like the way you freestyle with a soccer ball? And why?
If I were to compare my style to that of a musician or artist I would compare it to Mura Masa. Isolation from the music scene helped the artist to develop his own distinctive sound. Mura Masa's tone in general sounds soft and melodic, but in truth it is more of a harmonious chaos as he is able to differentiate each individual sound and perfectly blend them all together to make one unique sound. Similarly, I am in pursuit of creating my own flow and rhythm. The journey has been messy but it's definitely been worthwhile.
One player you’d want to freestyle battle with?
One player I would want to have a freestyle battle with would be Ronaldinho. His humble character and unpredictability would make a battle fun and a one of a kind experience.