Tuesday, August 3

Soccer beyond the borders: photo essay by Sebastián Barros | Art and Design

IIf the confinements have been a challenge for everyone, think of young adolescents, for whom friends are like a second family. For the past year, they haven’t been able to hang out for months, trapped at home or separated and masked at school, and the excitement of reuniting is palpable on Sebastian Barros’s What’s Good series. Taken after the third confinement and a very long winter, his images show friends sharing hugs, laughter, confidences and refreshments in sunny parks and sports fields in London. “I missed playing soccer with my friends and hanging out with them,” 15-year-old Michael told the photographer. “Although we still talk on social media, it’s nothing like talking in real life.”

Michael, left, with Rahman

And sport is important to all the children Barros photographed, because he did this project in collaboration with Football Beyond Borders, an educational and social inclusion charity that supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. FBB participants are passionate about soccer, but are disconnected from school and run the risk of being left out; the charity aims to step in and help them turn things around.

FBB was founded by fellow co-directors Jack Reynolds and Jasper Kain in 2012, after the London riots made them realize that “young people didn’t have the opportunities or the agency to shape their futures in a positive way.” United by the love of soccer, they wondered if the beautiful game could help.

Agalya, left, and Paige

They started running school youth training sessions and community outreach sessions in South London and, quickly finding an appetite for their work, decided to focus on early teens, hoping to prevent rather than cure. . FBB now works with more than 1,000 young people on 55 projects a week in London, Essex and the North West of England, offering intensive long-term support that includes teaching both in the classroom and in the field, in addition to residential courses, travel. and work experience. FBB works in schools and also through holiday camps because, as the charity points out, children are out of school for 14 weeks a year and not all of them can go abroad. It also runs community centers and youth centers.

The FBB team includes seasoned trainers, counselors, teachers, and behavior specialists, and when reading participant testimonials online, it’s surprising how many say it’s nice to have someone to talk to, someone who actually listens. “Stefan has helped me open up to people more easily since he arrived. He has helped me not to act bad and has shown me that I don’t have to act bad or be mischievous to get attention,” says Jaiden.

Canaila says: “I want to help girls and young people like me to be heard. I think adults should take time to listen to young people and help them because things are difficult. “

Britney, left, and Jemima

And Canaila is right, because things can certainly be difficult for underprivileged young people in Britain. According to the Child Poverty Action Group, 4.3 million children lived in poverty in the UK in 2019-20: 31% or nine in a typical class of 30, although the figures are higher in London. And that was before Covid. The pandemic has hit households with children hardest, according to The Trussell Trust, whose data shows a 95% increase in food packages delivered to households with children in April 2020, compared to April 2019. Marcus Rashford has spoken of leading a campaign against child poverty in the UK last year, especially child food poverty.

Rashford, who grew up in a single-parent, working-class family in Manchester, has said she knows “first-hand what hunger can lead to” and urged others to speak up on these issues, both to get help and to make sure others, who are more fortunate, they are aware of what is happening. Rashford has a platform due to his sporting success, but he has also supported the FBB participants, literally filming alongside them for the current Nike Football Play New campaign.

From left to right, Michael, Andrae and Nathaniel.

FBB encourages its participants to think of Rashford and others who have spoken out, athletes like Muhammed Ali, Megan Rapinoe or Colin Kaepernick who, perhaps, suggest how to advocate for change rather than self-destruction. “For us, winning is not about what you earn as an individual, but what you do for the community,” the charity stated in a recent Instagram post. In May, Barack Obama said something similar about Rashford, commenting; “Many of the young people I know, including Marcus, are ahead of where I was when I was 23 years old. They are already making changes and being positive forces in their communities ”.

FBB Instructor Timi Fernandez

It’s something to think about as the Uefa European Soccer Championship unfolds – FBB is running a Football for the Future campaign throughout the tournament, raising funds to support their new Northwest Community Center. But Sebastian Barros has not focused on these issues in his photographs, instead opting for a light-hearted look at some universal and relatable truths: it’s good to hang out with friends, especially after a year of confinement. intermittent. He also left space for participants to say what they think. “What I missed most about my friends during the confinement were the jokes we got to share and the good energy that surrounded us,” says Turaine, who is 15 years old. “And it shows how friends are an important part of a happy life.”


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