Kick-up king set for 100km desert mission

Photo credit:Liam Black

World record holding football freestyler John Farnworth is looking forward to taking on ‘Challenge Sahara’.

Farnworth, 33, will be doing kick-ups over 100 kilometres of the Sahara desert starting on March 8 to raise money for Lancashire-based children’s hospice Derian House, a charity close to his heart.

Farnworth said: “They care for children with severe illnesses and not just the children but the families. I visited them last year and I wanted to do this challenge for a charity that was worthwhile it just seemed like a really good fit so I’m hoping to raise as much money for that cause as possible.

The Lancashire freestyler has previously taken on similar challenges, keeping the ball off the ground for the duration of the London marathon and doing kick-ups while scaling Mount Everest, but says that Challenge Sahara could be his toughest challenge to date.

He estimates he will be doing kick-ups for nine to 10 hours each day.

He said: “It’s going to be a lot different obviously it’s going to be a lot hotter and a lot more difficult with the terrain. Everest was more of a mountainous terrain and a lot of ups and downs; the Sahara will be similar because were going up some of the largest dunes in the world actually, but it will be slippery.

“I’ve got to be fitter than I’ve ever been and stronger than I’ve ever been for the strength and the endurance and the ball control. The fitness side is something that I’ve really had to work on.”

Farnworth will be supported by a small group in the Sahara, with three assistants and a local guide, using a camel, to transport supplies.

Farnworth will be completing the challenge wearing desert running shoes rather than football trainers to avoid injuring himself while on the sand.

“If I get a blister it’s game over, that’s my worst worry really so I go through quite a lot (of trainers) so whether it be training or performing or filming it’s constantly rubbing away so I probably go through 10 a year.

You can donate to the Challenge Sahara JustGiving page here.