Back in 2016, the endless bouts of violence in Kashmir valley due to the killing of terrorist Burhan Wani, left many youngsters including Shah Huzaib nothing to do except stay home. Due to the prevailing situation, even the internet was shut down.
Huzaib would often see his friends indulging in some sporting activity in his colony to kill boredom. One day, when they gathered to play football and needed an extra man as a goal keeper, they signalled Huzaib to join them. With nothing else to do, he obliged.
Over the next few hours, he enjoyed kicking the ball and began trying different things with it. Eventually, it changed his life for good and turned Shah Huzaib into a renowned football trick shot artist. "Over the last few years, I have mastered 400 trick shots, most of which are very difficult. I remain focussed on the game and practice everyday without fail. Trick shots connected me with the world," smiles Shah Huzaib, speaking to Hyderabad Chronicle. The 21-year-old has set a new world record for ‘Maximum Football TrickShot Hits in Baskets in 30 Seconds’ at the International Books of Records recently.
"I attempted eight football trick shots in 30 seconds," says Huzaib of the world record he created in February this year.
It was certified by International Book of Records in the last week of April, making him an inspiration for youngsters across the country.
Despite not having access to a football ground to practice, Huzaib continued to hone his skills at home. "I hope to create more football trickshot records on different platforms soon," says the youngster, whose achievement is a reminder that hard work and perseverance can lead to success. He got featured on a popular YouTube page, wherein his trick shots fetched him five million views. Thereafter, he was featured on various media platforms including Oh My Goal, Sportskeeda, Wion among others.
Huzaib, unlike a majority of Indians, was a die-hard cricket fan, before his chance encounter with football in 2016. "Cricket was my only passion back then. I would not miss a cricket match when India would be playing for anything in the world," says Huzaib, who resides in Charar-e-Shareef in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
A huge fan of MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, Huzaib was in LKG when he first held a cricket bat and fell in love with it instantly. Becoming either a cricketer or a doctor was his aim back then. But once he took to football trick shots, there was no looking back. He quickly bought a pair of football shoes and began practicing rigorously. "It requires patience and hardwork and none can learn or perform trick shots overnight," he says.
Post 2016, Huzaib’s football trickshot became a rage on the internet. "I practice every day to fine tune my skills. During the COVID-19 lockdown, I began sharing my videos on social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter," informs the freestyle footballer, who studied in New Convent school till class III and later went to Life School Kashmir where he studied till 10th standard.
He completed his 12th from Government Boys Higher Secondary School in Charar-e-Sharif. While his father is in the fruit business, his mother is a house-wife.
His extraordinary moves took him to newer heights after he received shoutouts from Indian football team skipper Bhaichung Bhutia, then Sports minister Kiren Rijiju, Bollywood star Suniel Shetty and Real Madrid and Germany footballer Toni Kroos, who too shared video of Huzaib’s trick-shots.
"I want to take trick-shots to every nook and corner of the country. I look forward to represent Kashmir and India on more and more international platforms," says Huzaib, who auditioned for ‘India’s Got Talent’ (season 9) and received the ‘Kashmir Young Achievers Award’ from Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha in 2021.
In February this year, the talented Kashmiri youngster shared his journey at a TEDx talk in Bangalore.
"Social media platforms can help talented individuals showcase their skills and receive recognition, just like it happened in my case," he feels.
He feels the government needs to work more on sportspersons and provide them with facilities to encourage them. "There is a lot of talent in Kashmir. But they need a boost from the administration, in terms of sports infrastructure and facilities," says Huzaib, who was preparing for his 10th class examinations when the Centre abrogated Article 370 in August 2019.