Goal Click is a global football photography project where one person from every country in the world takes photos that symbolise football in their country with a disposable analogue camera. Intriguing, non?
Thin White Line’s editor Ian Kerr chatted with Goal Click founders Matt Barrett and Ed Jones.
How did you come up with the idea?
Matt: It all started in June 2013. Our day jobs are in sports marketing and both of us had been looking for a creative/journalistic project outside of work. We’re both huge football fans. I have a particularly niche interest in how sport is used in warzones for reconciliation and reconstruction. Ed is really getting into his photography. We’re both interested in the politics of sport and the impact of football at a grassroots level around the world.
One day we were throwing ideas around and Ed said, “Wouldn’t it be great to hand out disposable cameras to football fans around the world, you could tell a raw photographic story of global grassroots football?”
Ed: The rest as they say is history. After going through a few names. Goal Click was born in August 2013 during a Thai meal with Matt’s mum! We launched officially in May 2014.
Why analogue film? Please don’t tell us you’re hipsters…
Ed: We’re not hipsters…
Thank goodness for that.
Matt: There are three main reasons for the analogue films:
1) Equality. We want every one of our photographers to be equal. One analogue camera each with only 27 shots levels the playing field across the world. Our 14-year-old girl in Mumbai has the same tools as our professional photographer in Australia. It means the photos can be fairly compared and put alongside each other as one collection.
2) Time. In an analogue film every shot captures a moment in time and cannot be replicated. We want our Goal Click photographers to take their time and make carefully considered choices on how to use their 27 shots, rather than have an unlimited amount of photos. So we are not setting any deadlines or giving any briefs to our photographers. We just tell them every photo is important.
3) Uniqueness. If this was a digital project, any person or any brand could set this up. We realise this is going to take a lot of effort, promotion, networking and time to make it a success. But if we get it right we think we’re going to get one of the most unique global photography projects there has ever been, with photos from real football fans symbolising football in every country. Not every photo will be perfect, but each photo will be unique. Each photo will have a story that has been thought about carefully.
So you’re not looking for expert photographers so much but rather people with an interesting story to tell…
Matt: The most important factor is passion, alongside an interesting story to tell. If we find people with the right passion, we hope to show football’s similarities and differences around the world – the issues, the emotions and how it can bring people together and serve a role for good all over the world.
We want and already have a good range of participants. Among our first wave of photographers are representatives of inspirational NGOs and football charities, fans, players, coaches, administrators and professional photographers. We have children – a 10-year-old boy in Brazil and 14-year-old girl in India. We have an Inca guide. We have a church Pastor. We have an Israeli organisation bringing Israelis and Palestinians together through football (Peres Center For Peace). It’s important to get a wide cross section of the world taking part.
We also look for natives of every country, to get true access and sight of what football really means in each place.
We’re also pretty excited to create our own football community bringing together every single nation and territory around the world. Imagine the potential!
Which countries have been completed so far? Any stand-outs?
In August we received our first camera back from one of our Goal Click photographers Pastor Abraham Bangura, coach of the Single Leg Amputee Sports Association (SLASA) football team in Sierra Leone. SLASA was founded in 2001 at the end of the decade long civil war in Sierra Leone and runs a football-based programme for amputees, helping those affected by conflict overcome their injuries and re-integrate into society.
These photos from Sierra Leone are so inspirational, and have given us real confidence that Goal Click is going to uncover some fantastic material. Pastor Bangura took photos of SLASA training on Lumley Beach in Freetown and also of teams from across Freetown taking part in an annual community cup he organised.
We have just developed our second camera, from India, where our photographer is Blessy Sippora, a 14-year-old girl who plays football for a girl’s team in Dharavi, Mumbai. Blessy sent us a paper copy of her planning for each of the 27 photos. It showed real dedication and was touching to see the effort that has been put in.
Soon we are expecting to receive our cameras back from Germany, South Africa and Iraq, so momentum is really building. We have cameras in almost 30 countries now.
Our Iraq camera has been with an organisation called Spirit of Soccer. They educate children on the risks of landmines and explosives in the most dangerous parts of the world with their Mine Risk Education (MRE) curriculum alongside soccer games and drills, bringing together all ethnic and religious groups. This is serious stuff and the photos should be very thought provoking.
FIFA has 208 members, the UN 193. How many countries are you aiming for? Are England and Wales separate countries? More importantly, will Transnistria get a look in?
Ed: You’re not the first to ask about the number of countries, it’s probably Matt’s favourite question to answer. It was an interesting exercise in international relations just researching it to begin with…
Matt: Absolutely, there are 193 UN countries. But we felt it was better to base the list on FIFA members (209) and then any other members of the regional governing bodies like UEFA and CAF. This makes 222 in total, but this doesn’t include some UN states e.g. Monaco and quite a few of the Pacific Islands such as Palau.
What about the United Kingdom? There were rumours of a divorce, then a messy reconciliation…
Matt: Always an awkward case. We have treated England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as separate countries, as it makes sense in a football context. All this brings us to 228, which is a pretty reliable number and would probably be our ultimate ‘goal’ if we had to give one.
However this is where it gets complex and potentially political. We aim to be inclusive and representative of football anywhere in the world. So we want to be open to sending cameras to places with limited recognition e.g. Kosovo, or non self-governing territories that don’t belong to a regional governing body e.g. Falkland Islands. If we take it to the extreme then there are the unrecognised states like Transnistria and Tibet, which might be the icing on the cake! Basically we’re open to anywhere.
Technically our list has a potential 249 states, territories and provinces. That is an aspiration, but we’ll be over the moon if and when we reach 50. And then we’ll look to hit 100…
You’ll have a boatload of photos by the end. Will you do a book of the photos and the stories behind them?
Matt: Our first and main target is to bring the photos together in a gallery exhibition before the end of 2015. How big it is will depend on how many cameras we have back at that point. As long as we have one good photo in each film we think we have the makings of a stunning exhibition. Until then we’ll keep pushing out the photos as a curated website, as well as doing a podcast interview with every photographer.
We would love to create a book, but it’s early days and we’ll see where things lead. We’ll be happy just to keep getting the amazing feedback we have been getting from all over the world. An endorsement from a pro would be pretty special, in case you know anyone…?
Hmm… well I know some unprofessionals. Anyway, if people are interested in being part of the project, what should they do?
Ed: Goal Click is looking for people who are passionate about football and can give an unusual or interesting insight into football in their country. What is most important is their enthusiasm.
If someone thinks they can be the Goal Click representative of their nation or territory, they should apply on our website www.goal-click.com and tell us why they should be given a camera!
Want to know more? You can get involved at the Goal Click website.