One of our favourite photos

One of our favourite photos, and certainly the photo we get the most comments about, is the image above. It captures everything that Their Beautiful Game is about – a boy with his ball, home made goals on a makeshift pitch, the white wall behind splattered with marks. The photo was taken as we were on our way to running an afternoon coaching session with Nimobi FC – a girl’s football club in a slum district of Accra, Ghana in 2012. As we walked through the backstreets we came across the boy who was playing with a ball that was missing panels, others loosely re-stitched to hold it together, the leather completely worn and scuffed. We watched as he played with the ball, dribbling past imaginary defenders before shooting into the small goals made with a mixture of wood and concrete piping. Sometimes he scored, sometimes he missed, but for all intents and purposes as far as he was concerned, he could’ve been playing at the Nou Camp, Wembley or the Maracana. After we’d finished our coaching session, we walked back the way we’d come and even though it was early evening, the boy was still there, the dribbling still happening, the goal still standing, the ball still somehow miraculously functioning. We had a few balls of our own, so we asked him if he would like one. It was one of many magical moments that we’ve had at Their Beautiful Game as the boy told us that he’d never had a “real ball” before. As a street child, he slept behind the wall in the photo, which is a derelict building with no roof that backs out onto wasteland. He talked us through how he’d built the goals – where he’d found the materials, how he repairs them and keeps his pitch free of as much debris as possible. He then asked if he could have his photo taken and have us show it to him. He stood proudly in front of his goals. Ball at his feet. He saw the image on the screen of the digital camera (the first time he’d had his picture taken), but we were never able to get a photograph back to him. Hopefully he’s still using the ball, and scoring the kind of goals that dreams are made of.

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