Isaiah Akka Escobedo (Facebook page) always has a soccer ball at his feet. Or resting on his neck. Or floating magically in the air over his head. Freestyle, Futsal, Street Soccer – these are the games he plays and the dreams he lives.
You might not expect to find a guy like Isaiah in Vancouver, Washington – but he is part of a group in the greater Portland area that includes Alan Croft (see our feature on Croft here) and is helping inspire players in Southwest Washington to broaden their thinking about soccer and embrace life on the fringe of the world’s sport.
We caught up with Isaiah for a Q & A – conducted long distance from goalWA.net – to New York City. Read our conversation below.
How did you get into freestyle soccer?
I grew up playing soccer (since age 4). I was always playing street soccer and playing with the ball. Ronaldinho and Touzani are my hero’s so they we’re a huge influence to my game and passion for the ball.
What is the freestyle soccer scene like in PDX / VAN USA?
The freestyle scene is growing in the NW, we have a small group of about 6 or 7 freestylers that link up in Portland as often as possible. I’m doing my part to spread steet soccer and freestyle in my community with my Street Soccer Dojo program I run within the club I coach for (Washington Timbers FC.)
You’re in New York now – what’s that all about?
I’m in NYC with SISM (SoccerInSlowMotion) working with McDonalds as street soccer and freestyle entertainment for the International Championship Cup game Barcelona vs Juventus. Alan Croft and I ran a soccer clinic for McDonald’s and we got to work with David Villa. It was incredible, such a great guy!
Talk about your travels in soccer and how you fund it or make a living at it.
Growing up I played at some of the highest levels (Oregon ODP, 3x Region 4 player) so I was fortunate to travel all over the country although I never made it out of the State until Street Soccer took me to Copenhagen Denmark to represent America (after winning SoccerInSlowMotion‘s Panna tournament) in an invitational Panna tournament hosted by Pannahouse. My actual job is coaching for the Washington Timbers FC club in Vancouver Washington, I coach 07 Boys. However, I bring in most of my funds through Private Trainings & Group Trainings. Right now I’m currently training close to 30 kids and I have my own Street Soccer School (Dojo) within the Washington Timbers, so far each session has been incredible. My passion is my “job” so I do not consider it work.
Do you ever want ‘day off’ from soccer, or do you have a ball with you most of the time?
Sundays are my only days off, all other day I’m training kids, coaching my team, or doing my own training (Street Soccer and Freestyle) for up to 6 hours a day. If I could only count how many touches on the ball I get in a single day…
What is your next goal in freestyle / futsal / soccer?
My next goal in Street Soccer is to defend my US Panna title and to finish in the top 10 at the next Pannahouse Invitationals tournament against the world’s best. I just got a Coaching / Training job at Rose City Futsal in Portland Oregon so I will begin doing more futsal. I would like to give professional futsal overseas a shot because I do believe I am at that level. As far as Freestyle, my goal is to master basics before anything, I just need to make more time for practice somehow. Between the 6 hours of soccer I’m doing a day and the Street Soccer priorities, it’s hard to balance freestyle in there as well. But I will improve and be better than yesterday. Overall, my goal is go share the passion for the ball to all people.