Having spent a couple of sessions with Laura what has really impressed me about her, aside from her obvious skills is her passion and desire to see the next generation engaged in the sport of freestyle football. This is about more than just an athlete wanting to get people involved at grassroots in
their sport this is about an athlete totally committed to challenging perceptions and changing the world of freestyle football for the next generation.
Laura is pro-actively seeking to improve the freestyle football scene as well as work with the governing body on how to see growth in the women’s side
of the sport and to see parity with the men in all areas. As Laura explained to me “I want to push and open doors for girls”.
On the subject of men versus women Laura chats with balance and clarity in a subject area that so often can be anything from frustration to anger. She
acknowledges there are and always will be differences between men and women but she approaches it in a positive way. Whilst acknowledging the strengths
of the male freestylers and that women will never be able to match them, she counters this by pointing out that female flexibility can bring the different
aspects closer together. Laura’s approach is refreshing to hear, she sees the “male/female” debate as a mute one, and that it’s about differences and
seeing them for nothing more than that. It’s about embracing the differences and constantly working to better yourself. For Laura there isn’t a “big
issue” that needs to be moaned about. It’s about acknowledging the situation and finding solutions, but importantly being a part of the solution as
Laura commented “the satisfying part is inspiring girls who thought it was only for boys till they see me”. Laura doesn’t want to stand on the side
lines and talk about what could be, she knows the way it will happen is to be involved and to lead the way.
What impressed me about Laura and first made me want to interview her was that whilst watching videos of her in competition and doing tricks, the audience
and fans were amazed by what she was doing for pure skill. There were no casual bystanders, uninterested because she “was a girl”, no men shrugging
their shoulders saying they could do better. All I saw was men and women standing mouths wide at what she was doing. Laura is an athlete who is rated
for her skill and not her gender. It’s so exciting to see that this is happening and the reaction she gets from the crowds. Laura smiles as she listens
to me explaining that and says “they are amazed to see a girl do freestyle” and she continues by explaining why she is doing it “I want to break the
stereotypes that girls can’t do that or that’s good for a girl”. This is someone totally committed to improving the image of “girls” in sport by leading
from the front. Talk and rhetoric is so easy but Laura is a catalyst for change in a positive way, she sees the differences and is working with rather
than against them. As Laura put it “positive impact” and that sums her up for me and what she is doing. This is an athlete that is wanting to and affecting
change by actively doing things and challenging the status quo, but in a way that is inspiring and sees positive change. Laura wants to be the solution
and so is getting on with being it. She is inspiring a new generation and promoting the sport, a true ambassador and role model.
Freestyle football seems to be more than just a sport, it’s a community where excellence is recognised and applauded regardless of gender and it’s in this
environment that Laura has really grown. F3 the freestyle football federation has seen the “positive impact” Laura has been having and asked her to
become their Chief Administrator for female football freestyle. This role sees her liaising with and motivating all female freestylers who come into
the scene and driving awareness forward for the sport in general too. Commenting on this, F3 President Dan Wood commented “Her experience in performance
and competition across the globe is unparalleled and she really wants to help more girls enjoy the sport of freestyle football”.
Laura explained “it’s about developing the number of girls participating in freestyle and they (F3) want to push it and for it to be equally male and female”.
What better a way to affect change than from within the sporting federation but also credit to F3 for their vision and support of women’s freestyle.
To put someone of Laura’s calibre in a position like that is a real statement of intent and I look forward to see how this grows and what lessons can
be transferred to other sports.
“it’s about developing the number of girls participating in freestyle and they (F3) want to push it and for it to be equally male and female”.
Laura Biondo is an shining example of a very talented athlete who can inspire a generation, be a role model, amazing crowds with her skills and challenge
the notion that girls cant do, all with a smile on her face. Her determination to push boundaries will see significant change in not only freestyle
football but I hope other sports as well. I am looking forward to seeing where this all leads Laura and the impact she will have on the next generation.