Exclusive interview with the new World Champions of freestyle football

Exclusive interview with the new World Champions of freestyle football

On 15 November 2019, Ricardo “Ricardinho” Fabiano Chahini de Araújo of Brazil and Mélody “Mélo” Donchet of France won the men’s and women’s categories of the Red Bull Street Style World Final in Miami, USA, the official World Championship of freestyle football. It was the first World Final win for Ricardinho, and for Brazil. For Mélo, the achievement made her the only freestyler, male or female, to clinch three career World Final victories. And for both athletes, the result was also a redemption, as they each had finished tantalizingly close to the crown as the runner-up in 2018. Fresh from the Miami podium and still dusted with confetti, they shared their thoughts and emotions. 


Thanks for taking a moment to talk with us. This was the first Red Bull Street Style World Final ever held in Miami. How did you like it here?

Mélo:Miami is a place that I truly adore. And it was much warmer than the final in Poland last year!”

Ricardinho:“Yes, and the crowds have been amazing. Thank you, Miami!”


How does it feel to win this World Championship?

Ricardinho:It’s more than a dream come true for me, to be honest.”

Mélo:“Now I feel so good. Before the competition I thought I would not win because I stopped training two months ago, due to a bad injury. But before the event I felt good, and in Qualification I felt good. And in the final – normally I feel a lot of stress, my whole body shaking – and this year it was not easy, but my body said, ‘OK, you will do it.’ So I’m very happy.”


Ricardinho, the competition seemed to be at a new level this year, but you looked cool, confident and in control all week. What was your mindset for this World Final?

Ricardinho: “I came with the mind of a champion, like a lion, and I bettered myself in each battle. The level of competition this year was crazy, but that doesn’t matter for me. I just care about myself on the stage, and I think I took the right way to beat all the guys and to be the champion.”


In contrast, Mélody, it must have been worrying for you to know that you weren’t at 100 percent.

Mélo: “My doctor told me it was my body, so it was up to me, but if I did the competition, I had a 50 percent risk of rupturing a ligament. I have already done that before on the right knee, and I don’t want to do it on the left. I considered everything carefully, and I thought I might only be able to participate in Thursday’s Qualification. I didn’t want to become injured, because this is my job. To rupture a cruciate ligament, that’s a year off. So in Qualification, I thought, ‘OK, I will make the moves, but instead of putting my concentration almost completely on the moves, I will pay more attention to my knees.’ I took care of them.”


Ricardinho, you were injured last year, but happily that wasn’t the case this time. How did you prepare for this World Championship?

Ricardinho: “I definitely worked on everything – not only freestyle moves, but I got my body ready. I went to the gym a lot and prepared myself to be comfortable on the stage. I was always a guy who usually starts freestyle with lowers. This year, I took a little bit of a rest on lowers and put some added focus on style. I thought that I needed to work more on sit-downs, uppers, transitions. I think that was the point that made me the champion.”

Finally, you two, what is in your future?

Mélo: “I will continue with freestyle, because I love to share my passion. But when it comes to competition, it is possible I will stop. I don’t know. I think I’m probably the oldest; I’m 30, and others are 16, 18, 20… In comparison, I’m a grandmother! (laughs) And I have shown my best. I have won five world titles [including the three Red Bull Street Style World Championships], and now I think I have nothing left to prove.


Do you really mean that?

Mélo: “I am going to reflect on it. After resting for two months or so, I’m going to train next year. If I don’t progress a lot, I might make way for those who are younger. That’s how it is in sports, and I’ve had lots of injuries. I haven’t been able to bend my right knee more than this [about 90 degrees] for 10 years, and so I’ve learned to do my tricks with my handicap, which is another universe. But I’m still here! I won.”


And Ricardinho, you’re only 21. What’s your plan?

Ricardinho: “The plan for the future… Well… well…”


Is it just too hard to say right now?

Ricardinho: “No, it’s not hard to say. I have dreams for my future. But plans? Only God plans.”


See how Ricardinho and Mélo battled their way to the World Championship in the 2019 Red Bull Street Style World Final, live-on-demand at www.redbulltv.com.

Stay up to date with Red Bull Street Style all year long at www.redbullstreetstyle.comand World Freestyle Football Association (WFFA) social channels.




Videos / Pictures free of charge for editorial use. Credit: Samo Vidic and Dean Treml for Red Bull Content Pool.

More images, videos, information: http://www.redbullcontentpool.com

Red Bull Street Style: www.redbullstreetstyle.com

World Freestyle Football Association: www.thewffa.org

Instagram and Facebook: @thewffa

Contact: mario.schoby@3mpg.ch