New Balance Blackout Squad: Curtis Maher

New Balance Football officially launched its Blackout Squad competition in March, offering amateur players around the globe the chance to become part of a select group to trial New Balance football boots, just as the brand’s global professional player ambassadors do. The sign-up stage closed on April 6 and New Balance Australia can now announce its Australian squad.

New Balance Australia shortlisted 150 entrants who were asked to show why they deserved to be part of Blackout Squad through video. From there, the group was narrowed down to 60 entrants who will be awarded the New Balance football boots and kits. New Balance will then select the final 11 winners to represent Australia’s own Blackout Squad.

Inspired by the practice of pro-footballers trialling blacked out boots when testing new products, competition winners will be the first members of public in the world to get their hands on the highly sought-after New Balance boots alongside an exclusive Blackout Squad apparel package, worth more than $4,000.

We talk to a few of the Australian players in Team NB’s Blackout Squad.

Curtis Maher: The 21-year-old football freestyler fell in love with this style of football while out with injury. Working with New Balance BoS, Curtis hopes to bring the art and world of freestyling in Australia to the global stage.

Tell us about the team you play for.
A few others and myself have recently formed a new freestyle crew in Oceania – Vision Freestyle. Vision Freestyle is a compilation of all of the elite freestylers across Australia and New Zealand. The ball has only just started rolling and we already have big projects lined up in the near future and that's when things will really get started, so exciting times ahead! We currently perform all over Oceania entertaining at all kinds of events such as sporting and corporate events. We also run workshops and have been involved in commercials and advertisements.

How does it feel to get a New Balance Blackout Squad contract?
Being selected as part of the New Balance Blackout Squad provides me with a great opportunity to be able to work with New Balance Football. It’s an exciting feeling having exclusive access to new products before they even hit the shelves.

What is your motivation when playing football?
When I was playing football for a club I used to play simply because I enjoyed the game. It was never really of a competitive nature for me and I never took it too seriously. I felt the same way when I got into freestyle football seven years ago. I was doing it simply for the enjoyment. Fast-forward to now at 21 years of age and things have changed quite a lot. I do still thoroughly enjoy freestyling like I did in the earlier days but freestyle football has basically become my whole life now. I take it very seriously. I am training and conditioning my body every single day and pay very close attention to my nutrition. I am always on the look out for new ways in which I can optimize my performance. I would say this is my main motivation in pursuing freestyle football; I like to push my own limits and always be improving. While I am mainly driven intrinsically I also find there is large extrinsic motivation as well.

I was just recently performing at the children’s hospital in Brisbane. It was such an amazing day entertaining the kids there, some having been there for many months or years. It was great to be able to put smiles on their faces and give them much needed distraction as well as help them forget about being sick and let them just be kids for a while. Freestyle football has given me many opportunities from travelling around the world to meeting many amazing people but this kind of thing is definitely one of the most rewarding. Being able to share my passion and spread joy among others is absolutely priceless.

Which New Balance professional player has a similar style to you, or do you aspire to be like?
Being a freestyle footballer I really like to create my own unique style to differentiate myself from others. Tim Cahill is an Australian icon within the footballing world and I would love to be able to achieve the same success within freestyle football.

New Balance’s squad of professional players are backing the plan, encouraging amateur players around the world to enter. Australia superstar, Shanghai Shenhua attacker Tim Cahill, said: "I’ll never forget where I got my start in football and those that challenged and believed in me, helping me take my game to the next level.

“I love the concept of the New Balance Blackout Squad, it's an initiative like this that can help provide the inspiration and drive for the future stars of football, giving them the professional experience and opportunity to connect with other like-minded grassroots players globally. The best way to improve yourself is by giving your all in training and games and NB will make sure that the winners have all the right gear to make it happen. I’m excited to watch this group of rising stars and welcome them to team New Balance.”

To learn more on the global Blackout Squad, go to: www.newbalance.com.au

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