The World Cup, football’s quadrennial showcase is an opportunity to watch the best players and see the national teams compete for the title of world champion. However for many it is also so much more than that. For many, what makes this month-long sporting festivity so unique and memorable is that it is a stage for celebrating difference, diversity and inclusion.
While the build up for this year’s tournament has been overshadowed by a number of controversies, Football Beyond Borders (FBB) and Nike London teamed up to deliver the ‘City of Nations’ project. This championed the power of diversity, inclusion, and cohesion experienced by young Londoners during the World Cup and serves as a catalyst for unity.
“London is arguably the most diverse and international city in the world. So when 32 nations come together for the World Cup, football takes centre stage and dominates the cultural landscape of this city capturing the hearts and minds of the capital in a unique manner” explains FBB’s Head of Delivery Joseph Watfa.
“We sought to capitalise on this and champion London’s unique blend of football and culture through messages of inclusion and diversity. We went to Brazilian bars, Nigerian restaurants, Portuguese cafes, and many more places to capture the story of the World Cup through the eyes of young Londoners and the different cultural communities they belong to.”
The project took place away from the glossy studios of images styled by professionals, instead it was about meeting young Londoners on their own home turf. It involved getting them to be themselves and wear what they want in the heart of their communities. The project consisted of three parts each documenting the diverse identities of FBB’s young people. The first of these was run during FBB’s schools programme. Three groups from across the city explored notions of multiculturalism, identity, and immigration through football. Part two consisted of video interviews and photography sessions with some of FBB’s young people. These videos were released on Nike London’s Instagram page as well as featuring in Nike’s flagship store in Oxford Street, London. The final stage of the project was an image selection by the young people involved in the project for a photography exhibition that will coincide with the end of the World Cup as well as the production of a magazine.
Highlighting the importance of experiences like this for young people, Joseph Watfa noted that “Unfortunately, young people are usually spoken about and for. With this project, our students were not only able to work with one of the world’s most foremost brands, but also had the opportunity and platform to shape their own narrative in a was that was enriching and inspirational. It is exciting and encouraging to see the discussions and self-reflection it encouraged around identity.”
Ebun, who is one of FBB’s young student interviewed, says of the World Cup: “Football will be an amazing experience to share with other Nigerians. In Peckham, the Nigerian connection is very real! Nigerian love cuts through any postcode.”
The impact on the FBB participants is clear for all to see. As school teacher Tom Bateman says “The sense of pride it has brought to our students is huge. I have seen many students from my school grow from this project and display an increased confidence. Knowing that they have worked with Nike and had their stories told makes them believe that they can achieve anything they put their mind to.”
Check out the stories on display on the ground floor of Nike Town on Oxford Street, London until 30th June.
To experience the project in more depth, visit the special FBB exhibition which will be held on 12th July at 6 pm at Golazo, Unit 8, Old Street Station. Please email Viktorija to attend: firstname.lastname@example.org