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May 27, 2009

Ballet gives football an extra lift

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Argentine footballer Diego Maradona, who inspired the movement. Photo courtesy Slaff Bondaruk

Ballet has always been reserved for the stage, and soccer for the field, but a new movement – inspired by the famous Argentine footballer Diego Maradona – seems to have changed all that.

Ballet moves are fast becoming popular training methods for soccer players. This trend apparently started when someone compared Maradona’s movements to typical ballet steps. From there, a training curriculum has developed.

The movement has spread to South Africa, with elite soccer academies making ballet part of their training schedules.

Dirk Badenhorst, head of the Ballet and Dance Academy near Pretoria, explained in an interview with the Mail & Guardian how ballet helps develop soccer skills.

“There’s a basic move that they [footballers] do called a rond de jambe en l’air, where they lift the leg in the air, and that in particular helps them with kicking the ball in the air. And if they have the control of the body, and learn how to bend the bottom leg while they do it, they have much more strength and power in the kick,” said Badenhorst.

The cross-training movement, he added, is “trying to create respect between our sports people and our arts people”.

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