Scottish photographer Jane Stockdale has a knack for documenting sport – and not in the overly-flashy, motion-blurred style we all too often see it in. Jane’s work is honest and relatable, it captures the spirit of cycling, of Nascar driving, or athletics by honing in on intimate, celebratory moments with champions and beginners alike. In her most recent series, Jane’s focus was once again football as she was invited by JWT Amsterdam and ING to create a pep talk for Holland and its people.
“Holland didn’t qualify for the World Cup this year, so I was asked to shoot a very humble and honest reportage that goes ‘back to basics’ and captures genuine football moments across Holland from the north to the south, big cities to small towns, little fields and back gardens to stadiums,” Jane tells It’s Nice That. The resulting series captures children playing after school and places them next to the Dutch national team and volunteers handing out lemonade. The photos will form a television advert addressing the nation to say, “Come on, out you go, never giving up, just play football”.
The series was shot over eight days in total, spread out over a few months from March to May of 2018. “We had such a laugh shooting this,” Jane recalls. “Sadly, Scotland haven’t qualified for the World Cup since 1998 (when we scored an own goal against Brazil!) so I have vast amounts of empathy for Holland not qualifying for the World Cup this year,” she adds. As a result, her approach to documenting the Dutch people was authentic and personable, capturing the national side thanks to introductions by ING but also sourcing local teams by asking friends and family for recommendations.“The Dutch football structure is amazing because there is a real community spirit to each club, no matter if they are hosting a big tournament like the Euros or just having team practice on a Sunday,” Jane explains. This sprit rings true throughout the series, despite the variety of people and places it documents. In its tone, the series is unifying, creating a metaphorical playing field where this whole community can exist as one. “We wanted to capture a love for football, and what it feels like to win or lose, no matter if it’s the biggest game of your life or a freezing cold game playing in the rain on a Saturday morning,” Jane adds.
Although obviously there on a commercial job, Jane’s belief in the message the series should portray also massively impacted the outcome of photographs. Having visited the Netherlands in 2017 to document the women’s national team, Jane and the rest of her team held a street football match in Amsterdam in the Zaandammerplein on their last day. It’s actions like these which make the series such an authentic one – one born from genuine interactions and connections.
Ultimately, Jane’s images are uplifting and nostalgic, all at once – especially for anyone who spent their childhood weekends running around a muddy pitch, come rain or shine. It presents football as a sport which unites everyone and which can be enjoyed by everyone. “Football is unpredictable and you never know what will happen next – on the pitch, on the sidelines or in the changing rooms,” Jane concludes, “we wanted to document spontaneous moments that are honest and true.”
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