A Los Altos teen has created a popular Instagram account and app that showcases both his love of soccer and a challenge.
Sky Ng-Thow-Hing is the 16-year-old behind @skyfreestylez, on which he posts videos of himself doing trick shots and juggling as well as game highlights from his Red Star Soccer Academy and Homestead High School teams.
The first post on the account is from two years ago when Ng-Thow-Hing set up a ring in the top right corner of the net and shot the ball through it. His tricks have only gotten more advanced from there, with videos of Ng-Thow-Hing juggling and shooting a soccer ball into garbage cans, bags and basketball hoops without looking. He’s also started adding special effects to the videos, all of which have received more than 1,000 views. A handful of his videos have now eclipsed 4,000 views.
“The Instagram originally started as a way to document my progress with juggling,” the rising junior said, “but as I noticed that more people were enjoying the videos I put out, I started adding the editing.”
Ng-Thow-Hing began playing soccer approximately 10 years ago, but he didn’t start juggling until he was in seventh grade.
“When I would wait for my parents to pick me up from school, I would have to wait maybe 30 minutes to an hour,” Ng-Thow-Hing said. “I would always bring a soccer ball with me to school and in that free time I would juggle. ... From there, that’s when I really realized that I enjoyed juggling and doing tricks.”
Learning his tricks took lots of repetition and practice, Ng-Thow-Hing said. He spent up to an hour every day and also watched YouTube tutorials for inspiration.
Filming a video can take an hour to perfect the trick, he said. Then, Ng-Thow-Hing spends four to five hours editing if he wants to add lots of special effects. He’s learned that he has a passion for editing and filmmaking and enjoys the challenge of teaching himself how to create something new.
Ng-Thow-Hing said he likes posting his soccer videos because it helps him connect with family members in Toronto and other young soccer players.
“It inspires some other kids to practice themselves,” he said. “If they can see how well I’ve improved, they might think to themselves, ‘Well, I can do that, too.’”
Cleber Silva, Ng-Thow-Hing’s club soccer coach for five seasons, praised his commitment, saying the forward comes early and stays late at practices. Silva has seen Ng-Thow-Hing grow from a shy player to a more confident one.
“He’s greatly improved in his ability to express himself on the field,” Silva said. “He’s not afraid to take players on.”
Creating his app, Soccer Legend: Become the Best (available on iTunes for the iPhone) was another way Ng-Thow-Hing wanted to challenge himself. After taking a coding class at Homestead, he made it his goal to make an app over break last December.
The goal of the 2D game is to dodge soccer balls of various sizes and speeds falling from the sky, while at the same time collecting tokens that add to your score.
“It was hard, because it was new territory,” Ng-Thow-Hing said. “I haven’t really tried to make an app before and I’d say there were a lot of times I was unsure of how to do things.”
Last he checked, Soccer Legend had approximately 200 downloads.
Ng-Thow-Hing wants to keep challenging himself to create more apps, as well as learn more about social marketing to increase his audience on @skyfreestylez.
“Currently, I’m working on a 3D basketball game app and I want to try experimenting to make more cool apps,” Ng-Thow-Hing said. “I also want to keep pushing myself to improve in the soccer freestyle aspect as well as in the editing aspect.”