Since our inception, we’ve written about football a lot here on It’s Nice That. It seems that creatives, and especially photographers, can’t get enough of the sport and the inclusivity it engenders. After all, it gives their lenses a whole team to focus on. And just like those soccer-mad snappers, we’re always intrigued and engaged by football related stories. This was especially the case when the team at Mundial pointed us in the direction of Simon Heger Knuden’s project, Ball.
Simon, a Copenhagen-based autodidact photographer, has crafted a distinct vision by approaching “each subject from an intuitively emotional standpoint, depicting that and those which resonates with his personal scope,” reads his biography. It’s a point of view that’s understandably impressed numerous clients too, with Simon having worked with the likes of The New York Times, T Magazine, Norse Projects and Adidas in the past. Ball however, shows Simon’s photographic voice in full flow, portraying football culture in Maputo, Mozambique.
Shot towards the end of 2017, Ball investigates football’s ability to be a “means of communication across age and origin, influencing and improving the lives of those who participate in the game and its circumferential culture”. Simon concentrates on “the kids of Maputo’s football fields as protagonists in a photographic narrative,” so the project’s description says. “Rather than portraying the game itself, Heger Knudsen’s motivation was to document the daily affairs of any average football field in a nation on the South-east tip of Africa.”
The photographer also has a personal and longstanding relationship with football. Raised with the game since he was a kid, Simon took his own mementoes referring to the game with him on his trip, packing a bag full of his “most prized jerseys from youth for the kids of the Mozambican football fields,” he explains. The inclusion of these early noughties kits within the project adds both “an inherently sentimental value” and an aesthetic one within the final photographs.
Now a cohesive series and even a book which you can peruse and purchase here, the project is “deciphered as a partial allure to his own childhood," continues the book’s description. "The photographs of the Maputo football kids serve as a testament to the most intangible yet incremental quality of football: how it can affect and improve the lives of those who play it for the better — the most beautiful game.”
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