It has never been a more important time to show how football can unite us. Whoever we are, wherever we’re from, football has a unique ability to bring people together. Whether that’s men or women, old or young – or people of different faiths and races, football has the power to make us cheer with joy or slump in disappointment.
To mark World Refugee Day on Saturday 20th June, Goal Click and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, have launched a new photographic and text series, “Goal Click Refugees”.
The unique series collaborates with refugees and asylum seekers around the world to document their personal stories and experiences through football.
Goal Click gave each participant a disposable analogue camera to capture the realities of their football lives and communities.
Intimate photos and unfiltered stories came back from camps in Jordan, Kenya and South Sudan to the playing fields of London and Coventry, offering a platform to unheard voices and highlighting the experiences of refugees through the common language of football.
The series features more than 25 male and female refugees across five continents. Many of the stories offer hope, showing how football can help refugees and asylum-seekers to find their feet again and rebuild their lives in a new society after the trauma and confusion of flight.
Their stories and photos are a powerful example of how football can bring us together. Given the restart of the Premier League and the importance of hearing from diverse voices, sharing their stories now feels especially relevant.
Mehdi, one of the refugees now in the UK said “Football is important to me as it is a way of bringing people together and sharing a common love for the game. It also helps in life because it can make you feel lots of different emotions. From the thrill of winning a match, scoring a goal or saving a penalty, to the disappointment of losing or the pain of getting injured.”
Maram, 14, a girl from Zaatari camp in Jordan said that “Some people in the camp believe that football is only for boys, and girls shouldn’t do it. But when I play football it raises my spirits and it reinforces my self-confidence. I can be the person that changes how the community perceives girls’ football and breaks the wall of shame.’
Founder of Goal Click Matthew Barrett said “Whilst many stories appear in the media about refugees, it is rare to actually hear their voices or see their perspective. This series aims to challenge existing stereotypes and give an intimate look into refugees’ football lives, in a way that no one from outside these communities could do.”
Now, more than ever, the voices of the marginalised need to be heard. So do these positive stories.
The photos and stories can be viewed as an online exhibition on www.unhcr.org/goalclick