Saad Shafqat (SS): Assalam u Alaikum Hashim Ali. I hope you’re doing well?
Hashim Ali (HA): I am. I hope you are doing fine too.
SS: Tell us more about yourself (a brief introduction about yourself, your ethnic and study background)
HA: I am a football freestyler, fourth year medical student of Army Medical College and C.E.O of breakdance/Freestyle football crew which goes by the name “The Urban Jackhammer”.
Moreover, I am ranked among the list of top 8 football freestylers of Pakistan recognized internationally by the World Freestyle Football Federation.
SS: What are your interests in life? (brief description)
HA: I like to experience new things. Travel around the world, meet different people, and make friends. And make people happy. And all of this is possible through football freestyle. There is a saying that “All football freestylers are friends no matter where you are, where you are from”. Wherever I go, I message freestylers of that place and there you have, more friends!
SS: What’s your take on health and fitness? How important it is for one’s lifestyle?
HA: I think it’s very important for your life. Exercise increases the endorphins in your brain, lowering your depression. Moreover, you are saved from tons of diseases and at the end of the day, you do look good too. No matter how hard my study routine is, I always take some time and go out for football. Keeps me fresh and focused.
SS: Is Hashim Ali a foodie? What kind of food do you prefer?
HA: Me? Yes! I prefer all kind of Food. If it feels good, tastes good, it must be mine!
Biryani tops them all though.
SS: Being a medical student, is it hard to do the things which you do as a freestyler?
HA: It is. Sometimes I have to cancel my live performances and I am unable to go for competitions just because I have this never ending line of examinations going on throughout the year. But that thing aside, if it’s possible, I take out time for my training on daily basis. I think time management is the real trick. We can all take out one hour a day to do something we love. No?
SS: What made you believe that you can become football freestyler?
HA: I love football a lot. I have won ALL PAKISTAN COLLEGES FOOTBALL COMPETITION twice in a row playing for Sir Syed College. This love of football motivated me to try something more and I ended up here.
SS: Is it because you wanted to be different or it just clicked?
HA: I think it’s a little bit of luck too. But mostly, it was the love for football that brought me here.
SS: Looking back on your journey, was it tough or a walk in the park?
HA: Football freestyle demands a lot of time, determination and hardwork. You repeat one trick a thousand time and then it somewhat clicks your mind. It was no walk in the park. I have been through a lot of injuries too such as torn ankle ligaments and broken knee meniscus. But I decided never to give up.
SS: Were you inspired by any particular player/freestyler before you initiated your own journey to stardom?
HA: I came across this video of a very stylish freestyler Kamalio and Sofiane Touzani that made me think, “If they can, Why can’t I?” and this is where it all started.
SS: Will we see Hashim Ali, the freestyling juggernaut in any international freestyle tournaments in the coming years?
HA: I have been saving money for an International Competition next year that is held in Czech Republic. I plan on representing Pakistan there.
SS: You are the first Pakistani to execute the highly intricate trick called as the J-Stall? How does it feel?
HA: I took me almost 7 months, training two hours per day on daily basis. So you can well imagine how happy and satisfying it must have felt when I finally nailed it. Hoping to see many other freestylers doing that in the future.
SS: I know that you run a page by the name of the Urban Jack Hammer. What was the idea behind it?
HA: I go by this name. The Urban Jackhammer. It is my crew and we perform at different concerts, charity events, corporate events. We have had the honor of performing on TV channels too.
SS: Do you think Pakistan has a future in football freestyle? If you do, then what are the features that need to be improved to make the nation stand out?
HA: I don’t see a very bright future of football freestyle in Pakistan since there is zero support for us. No proper platforms. No proper competitions. You have to make your way yourself. And yes, unlike others, I would like to thank you and Birmingham Futsal Club for promoting my work here and on an international platform.
SS: Apart from football, do you play any other sports?
HA: I play Squash, Badminton and Tennis too.
SS: What kind of movies do you prefer to watch? Any particular favourite?
HA: I would say all the movies made by Christopher Nolan. His movies are much more than the ordinary romantic stories. Being a huge Batman fan, “Batman The Dark Knight” is my all time favourite.
SS: How do you feel when you get to know about the youth being so enthusiastic about the beautiful game?
HA: I think we have a lot of talent, just not the resources. If government provides us with the resources, Pakistan is no less than any country.
SS: How do you take the feeling that Pakistani youth wants to showcase football freestyle on a global level? Do you see any quality coming out of Pakistan in the next decade or so?
HA: I see many kids getting motivation from my videos. I have received many videos of young motivated freestylers and I see them being better than me in the future and making Pakistan proud. I will try my best that it actually happens.
SS: What tips would you like to give them?
HA: Hard work, determination and consistency is the key to a good freestyler. If the young freestylers need any sort of help, they can always contact me on my Facebook page, The Urban Jackhammer.
SS: Any message you would like to give to the youth in general?
HA: “Never Give Up. Keep pushing your limits. In not just football freestyle, but in anything you love. Manage your time, give it your all and see yourself become a champion.”
Written by: Syed Saad Shafqat Bukhari