World record-breaking football freestyler wows school pupils – and launches scholarship

A world record-breaking freestyle footballer wowed youngsters in South Tyneside as he showcased his skills.

John Farnworth, 32, impressed pupils at Boldon School, South Shields School and South Tyneside College as he went through his repertoire of tricks and flicks.

John Farnworth visited two schools in South Tyneside to show off his skills, as well as the college.

John Farnworth visited two schools in South Tyneside to show off his skills, as well as the college.

At the college, he kicked off a new course based around futsal, which is similar to five-a-side football but demands greater skills.

The futsal scholarship programme will allow students to gain nationally-recognised sports and academic subject qualifications in one combined course.

John – who has held eight Guinness world records – said: “What the college is doing with this scholarship is brilliant and I wish that there had been something like this when I was starting out.

“Sport plays such a huge and positive role in people’s lives – it’s very much as important as the academic side of things.

What the college is doing with this scholarship is brilliant and I wish that there had been something like this when I was starting out

John Farnworth

“To combine the two in one programme for young people in this area is a great development.

“Futsal is not as well known as football but that is changing, and people who may never excel at football can definitely do so at futsal.

“It was really good to be in South Tyneside – the people are really friendly, and it was good to show them my skills.”

John has showcased his skills around the world over the years, and is recognised as one of the globe’s best football freestylers.

John Farnworth demonstrating his skills at South Shields School.

John Farnworth demonstrating his skills at South Shields School.

One of his recent records saw him control a football dropped from a height of 137ft. The record has been held in the past by football superstars, including Barcelona duo Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

John’s next big challenge will see him try to keep up a football during a 10-day trek to Everest base camp.

He will be trying to ascend the mountain as far as possible once acclimatised.

As John was building his skills as a youngster, futsal played a key part in his development. It is hoped that the new programme at South Tyneside College will have a similar affect on youngsters in the borough.

Rob Grainey, head of commercial services at the college, said: “Seeing John in action has given the students an insight into how futsal can help them to develop tremendous sporting skills, just as it did John.

“The scholarship programme will give students the very best opportunity to learn futsal and gain high-quality sports and academic qualifications.”