In an ever-changing world with so many different cultures and life experiences, sport can offer us an entry point through which we can understand broader social contexts and dynamics. Goal Click is a storytelling organization that uses soccer as a lens to amplify stories of people around the world. They have worked with FIFA, adidas, UNHCR, and many more. The organization partners with people across the globe and gives them a platform to tell the story of their lives and football community through photography and the written word. Interestingly, Goal Click does not go into communities to create projects. Instead, it provides a space to amplify existing efforts.
Matthew Barrett, the co-founder of Goal Click, joins us today to share some of his insights. We first hear how Matthew combined his interests in history and sport to found the organization. He highlights that soccer is frequently presented as a panacea to overcoming social issues. Instead, it should be viewed as a tool that works in conjunction with other things to create meaningful, sustainable change. Matthew shares examples of some of the work that Goal Click has done, which highlight the power of what happens when people can tell their stories themselves rather than always being the subject of someone else’s. By empowering others, not only are they showing who they are to a new audience, but they are in a position to view themselves in a new light as well. We also learn about the organization’s decision to give participants analog cameras in a hyper-digital world.
Key Points From This Episode
At university, Matthew realized he could combine his academic interest of history with his love of sport because of the insights sport offers about societies.
Goal Click provides a unique, natural way to teach people about world events and social issues by piquing their interest through a sports lens. It allows people to share their own stories rather than other people coming in to tell it for them.
The medium for these stories is primarily written word and analog photography. There are many reasons for using analog vs. digital, with the main one being that it offers equality across the stories. Someone in one part of the world may have access to a very nice camera or cell phone, while others don’t. Shipping them an analog camera makes it so everyone’s photos have the same base, and it often leads to more intentional shots.
Goal Click considers themselves curators, not creators, in that they partner with organizations already doing work and amplify the stories. They don’t want to be starting initiatives in areas they are not experts in.
Matthew highlights some stories that have stood out to him from Goal Click:
- An organization in Northern Iraq, called Spirit of Soccer, educates children about the dangers of landmines through sport.
- The National Amputee Football Association in Sierra Leone uses soccer to help re-integrate amputees back into society by educating them and teaching them skills.
- Their project in Qatar, which they decided to do ahead of the 2022 World Cup, was driven by the fact that there were no stories from Qatari people about their thoughts on their country hosting the tournament and what the sport means to them.
“What I found is that everything I’ve done, particularly with Goal Click, football, and sport just strikes a chord with people that’s almost irrational. I think you can take that in many different directions, both playing, consuming, and then ultimately, maybe understanding what’s going on in the world. It has a bit of a unique way of breaking through when a lot of other things don’t.” — @matthewlbarrett [0:05:42]
“It takes a lot of work to use football for the right reasons around the world. I don’t think football can necessarily save the world. And I don’t think it necessarily brings people together unless it’s used alongside many other things.” — @matthewlbarrett [0:07:18]
“The stories that tend to stand out for me or when you see football, but actually, it’s about education or a bigger purpose to what football is doing in the world and in that community.” — @matthewlbarrett [0:10:12]
“There’s something in the scarcity of analog film that we believe focuses the mind and actually possibly creates better quality photos.” — @matthewlbarrett [0:13:12]
“You can’t do a series where you’re working with a hundred refugees and asylum seekers, and not by extension, be an advocate for refugee rights and empathy. So, whilst our intention is not to be an activist platform, we can’t help but be one when we are telling the stories of such inspirational people.” — @matthewlbarrett [0:30:47]
“Goal Click is only as good as the people that we work with. People go on about collaboration a lot. But literally, without collaboration, we wouldn’t have anything.” — @matthewlbarrett [0:49:50]