In his article, Sam Kershaw spoke to Footy Addicts members about the universal language of football and how the app is so much more than just finding a game.
For those that are invested in playing football, we all know that it’s so much more than just that hour on the pitch. It’s the anticipation of playing, the ritual of getting ready, friendships, camaraderie, community spirit and the funny anecdotes that you take home with you. The mutual respect of the young whippersnapper battling it out with the wiley old pro in his mid-50s. A beautiful rapport within the beautiful game.
Bar manager Freddie hails from Argentina and plays all over London. He loves the inclusive nature of Footy Addicts, ‘you can play with people from literally all over the world. If someone said to me, “I’m from Mars”, I wouldn’t be surprised’. He goes on to talk about how Footy Addicts unites the playing field over a shared passion. ‘It’s not only about football… before you know it you are invited to a party or to go for a drink. I’ve made lots of very good friends through Footy Addicts’. And it’s that the common ground, no matter who you are or where you are from, that Footy Addicts can give you.
Marco, West Indian and Italian grassroots Footy Addicts player, states that ‘you have people who are a bit too competitive and those who are not so competitive”. Marco perfectly describes the dynamic between the person who is there for the craic and a run-around alongside the person that feels the need to win at all costs. Despite the difference in people’s competitive nature, there will always be a handshake and a pat on the back between them.
Photographer Gemma has turned into a Footy Addict in the most literal sense, playing up to four different games a week. She is a huge fan of the collective consciousness in her games and how they have been the perfect platform to build up her confidence. Gemma says the Footy Addicts women’s games are ‘so inclusive and fun but it’s also super competitive. If you miss a sitter or mess up, everyone has a laugh about it. It’s a nice atmosphere and has really helped me grow’.
The regular pool of 40 players across Gemma’s games has seen bonds develop and positive relationships form.‘You end up seeing the same faces, which resulted in us organising other games and socials’. An international variety is definitely the spice of life in her weekly matches, ‘we have Italians and French, a group of American girls recently who were visiting the UK. There is also a Romanian girl who is an amazing striker and a girl who recently moved to London from Newcastle. There are so many different nationalities, but everyone is just there for the love of football’.
Scottish poker player and Motherwell F.C. fan, Gary, moved to London and didn’t know a soul. In search of friends and a game, somebody suggested Footy Addicts to him. ‘I didn’t know anyone, but everyone was so welcoming. It was competitive but friendly too’. Gary’s day-to-day profession is all about flying solo and ‘a completely opposite world’ to kicking a ball around with a bunch of strangers. However, ‘there is a universal language of football – time, pass, man on’ according to Gary, that means that nobody is really a stranger five minutes after kick off.
Whether you are a photographer or a poker player, bar manager or barrister, Footy Addicts unites people’s common love of the beautiful game across the UK, helps communities feel a sense of togetherness and creates friendships along the way.
Photos by Scott Kershaw