As a photographer, Inzajeano Latif says he is dedicated to deepening the broader cultural understanding of complex societal issues such as race and representation. His latest project, simply titled British South Asian Footballers, is a prime example of his goal. In it, he cuts the buzzwords that often surround such topics and instead uses visual storytelling to ignite a deeper and more compelling conversation.
He does this by portraying both the players and coaches of the Clarksfield & Glodwick FC Under 13 football team in Oldham. Taken both on the pitch and inside homes lined with trophies and supportive family members, these photos are a reminder of hope, a wistful look at youthful ambition and a powerful reminder that the pitch isn’t the same for everyone.
“Football evokes a range of emotions, from passion to anger, and I wanted to create images that reflected those feelings, albeit from a different perspective,” Inzajeano tells Creative Boom. “By doing this, I want to grab the attention of a wider audience and challenge them to think about how race and representation affect our perception of the world around us.”
Accompanied by the subjects’ handwritten notes, British soccer players from South Asia shed light on their unique experiences and the challenges faced by various minorities. “Through visual storytelling, I wanted to inspire empathy, curiosity and a deeper understanding of complex issues in hopes of building a more just and inclusive future,” adds Inzajeano.
“The contemporary media landscape is replete with promotional images of footballers that can reinforce harmful stereotypes and distort our perception of the game. As a photographer, I wanted to bring the focus back to the grassroots level, to capture the raw energy and passion of young South Asian footballers in their everyday environment.”
In addition to challenging the dominant narrative surrounding football – which often overlooks the unique experiences of minority groups in favor of the success stories of famous players – Inzajeano wanted to highlight that many South Asian players share the same dreams and aspirations as their wealthier players. known counterparts. And by displaying the images at home, Inzajeano hoped to make the message more understandable and universal.
“By photographing young players in a grassroots environment, I hoped to evoke a sense of nostalgia and idealism and remind viewers of the bright flame of hope that burns in all of us in our youth,” he explains. “However, I also wanted to highlight the harsh realities that can quench this flame for many young people, especially those from marginalized communities.”
Choosing to photograph small clubs presented Inzaeano with a unique opportunity as they captured the essence of hope that is often present in the stories of young athletes. “These clubs are often the breeding ground for future stars, where dreams are nurtured and ambitions are born,” he explains.
“My friend Ali, a key contributor to this project, had a personal connection to the team through his son’s involvement. This provided unprecedented access and insight into the lives of the young players, which is reflected in the intimacy and emotional resonance of the photographs.”
Since its release, the project has received a very positive reception, prompting Inzaeano to consider further expansion. Because of the project’s vision to stimulate meaningful conversations about race and representation, he feels it’s becoming increasingly clear that it needs to reach a national level.
“Securing the funding will enable the publication of a book that summarizes the essence of the project, containing critical and insightful texts written by academics,” he reveals.
“The book will also feature written testimonies from South Asian players at both club and grassroots level and will shed light on the realities of a South Asian footballer in today’s society. I’m always very interested to see work like this on display.”
Inzaeano encourages anyone interested in supporting the project to get in touch, as your support could help create a more equitable and inclusive sporting landscape for all.
“Amid football’s black and white binary, my project captures the spectrum of South Asian youth’s nuanced experiences on the pitch,” he concludes. “Beyond the sport’s periphery, the project embodies the ethos of empowerment and resonates with themes of resilience, hard work and cultural identity.
“In the future, I look to expand this project nationally and document the narratives of South Asians in sport with an integrative approach that invites academic perspectives and first-hand accounts of grassroots experiences to ensure these stories are relevant to future generations.” remain. Funding is critical to making this vision a reality, and I invite everyone who believes in this cause to come forward and support us.”