Millions of kids around the world dream of playing professional football when they grow up, but most don’t have to overcome the obstacles faced by 12-year-old Mikey Poulli.
During a routine eye exam when he was just seven years old, Poulli was diagnosed with a rare degenerative disease of the retina called rod cone dystrophy. Specialists believed it would take many years for his eyesight to completely deteriorate, but within 18 months the young Arsenal fan, who lives in north London with his parents, became totally blind.
Despite his condition, Mikey was determined to achieve his dream, and after being selected by the England national team for particular training, he has now been chosen as one of the faces of Urbanball-a new NFT-based, play to win street football match EX-Sports.
Urbanball, slated for release in December 2022, is a blockchain-based mobile game in which players collect and use NFT character cards to compete.
Each card is based on one of the world’s best street footballers, with the first drop featuring three UK-based players: Poulli, plus 26-year-old Radheya Marca, who has appeared in adverts for Adidias and has represented the country in a world three tournament. -v-three tournament led by Brazilian legend Ronaldinho and 20-year-old Amin Zahhar, who recently won the Urbanball UK final held in Dubai.
Marca and Zahhar have both triumphed in one-on-one regional tournaments hosted by two-time freestyle world champion Séan Garnier, who has two of his own Super Super Rare NFTs included in the initial drop: an SSR version with 45 NFTs and a SSR Flame. Edition limited to only 10 NFTs. These initial character cards are available exclusively on the Binance NFT Marketplace, with more drops due ahead of the game’s launch. EX Sports will host street football tournaments around the world, with winners having the opportunity to feature as cards character in the game.
Why do we make a #P2Egame ? In GameFi, players can earn revenue, lend their virtual assets, and stake the tokens they earn in games. It’s a win-win all round. See you soon in the #UrbanBall game – the world’s first #P2E#StreetFootball Game!
“EX Sports was developed with the aim of supporting niche sports, staying away from football and others that are already mainstream,” says Founder and CEO Toli Makris. “However, we discovered that street football is also a niche that has millions of athletes who have been overlooked by football federations and governing bodies.”
Urbanball is part of this mission to help underdog athletes increase their visibility and tap into revenue streams that would otherwise be out of their reach. A large percentage of the money generated from NFT sales will go directly to the featured player, with each $50 Mystery Box including either a character or a skill card, the latter of which boosts the performance of character cards in-game.
Three game modes are planned to be included in Urbanball at launch: 1v1, a turn-based card game in which players must defeat their human opponents over a certain number of rounds; Freestyle, in which players can increase the abilities of their UrbanBallers; and Trickshot, which involves performing tricks and hitting targets in order to increase the potential of the player’s skill cards. These include moves such as the Dribble 360, Confuso, and two that Garnier himself invented: The Dragon Step and SeanBrero.
Cardholders can also improve the performance of their in-game characters by training them, but the actual performance of featured players in Urbanball competitions will also give cardholders a better chance of winning. Owners will also be able to lend their NFTs, with the rewards being shared by both the recipient and the owner.
If it weren’t for the large ski mask-style blindfold placed over Mikey Poulli’s eyes – a condition for playing in blindfold football matches that ensures all players are on equal footing – you wouldn’t know he was any different from any other promising young footballer, such is the precision and ferocity with which he strikes the ball.
There’s a saying in football that good strikers know where the goal is, and Poulli’s Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube accounts – where he has a combined following of over 65,000 followers – feature a stream without end of him firing shots into the net.
Scroll down and you’ll also see clips of him performing a series of stunning tricks and dribbling past opponents using a specially adapted ball, which makes noise to help visually impaired players locate it at their feet. In one, the youngster even cheekily nutmegs Liverpool and England star Trent Alexander-Arnold, as he also ran around former Arsenal and Manchester City full-back Bacary Sagna during the match. an Urbanball launch event in Dubai earlier this week.
Poulli’s condition means he is unlikely to play in the Premier League, but he still dreams of representing England one day, and his goal of earning a living from the beautiful game is by no means exceeded. , especially with EX Sports on his team.
The Dubai-based company has a history of helping lesser-known athletes, whether muay thai fighters, weightlifters or freestyle footballers, connect with their fans and develop their own personal brands.
Séan Garnier has already teamed up with EX Sports to launch a range of coin-operated collectibles, so the fact that he’s back for more with Urbanball says it all – and the revenue generated from Mikey Poulli’s cards could be key to realizing his dream.
“Through Urbanball we want to raise awareness about rod dystrophy and blind football,” says Mikey’s father, John Poulli. This should help fund research into the disease and hopefully one day find a cure. And for Mikey Poulli and others like him, being able to review would be the greatest prize of all.
Article sponsored by EX-Sports
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