Interview by Matthew Barrett –
Goal Click is a new global football photography project in which one person from every country in the world takes photos with disposable analogue cameras that symbolize football in their country. You can follow on Instagram @goalclick.
In Russia the photographer, Sergey Novikov, produced a series of stunning photos for the Goal Click project, after travelling to the seven towns in the Ural Mountains. In Part 1 we spoke to Sergey about his incredible photos and what they reveal about Russian society. In Part 2 of the series Sergey tells us more about his images of amateur clubs taken at local championships and the relationship between football and social life, industry, and the economic crisis in the Ural Mountains.
Since 2011 I have been documenting the world of Russian amateur football through my “Grassroots” project, finding the most picturesque football pitches in the country. With Goal Click I decided to head inland to the Ural Mountains, Russia’s spine, where Europe and Asia meet. This is the middle of Russia, not geographically but culturally. I explored two regions of the Urals – Perm Krai and Sverdlovsk Oblast. There are seven towns in my story from The Ural Mountains: Perm, Uralsky, Chusovoy, Lysva, Kachkanar, Degtyarsk and Rezh.
The Stadium with a river in the background is a view from the nearest roof of the “Gornyak” stadium in Kachkanar, Sverdlovsk Oblast. “Gornyak” translates as “mining worker”. This is an amazing Stadium; I think it’s beautiful. It’s a bit old fashioned but looks great with the background. I climbed to the roof of a nine-story house to take the photo.
You can also see a poster of the metal works factory at the same stadium. There are not many fans here but this is not the main stand! I try to bring attention to amateur football in Russia. Usually there are only 200 to 300 people watching football live in the stadium, there is no TV broadcasting and photographs are scarce. Many people do not even know which teams play in their region; they know only the main team of the city. In the countryside even the taxi drivers do not know where the stadium is in their town!
In every corner of the country people play football. It is a national sport. The local football team is a tool to unite local communities. In a small town on a Saturday and Sunday people do not know what to do. Shops, drinking parties and football are the main attractions in the town.
There was one very interesting team named FC “Rezh-Hleb” in Rezh, Sverdlovsk Oblast. We can translate this as “cut” and “bread”, so they are called “the bread cutters”. The main sponsor of the club is a huge baking factory that makes very simple bread and they sponsor the team; they buy their kits and pay for their travel. This photo shows the reserve players, two coaches of the team and the doctor during their home game against FC “Triumph” Alapaevsk.
I wanted to take a group portrait of the local football club FC “Lysva” in the town of Lysva, Perm Krai. They were very interested in the being in a photo for British media and an exhibition. I told them they needn’t fear any European countries or Great Britain!
I found a unique team called FC “Fanerschik” in Uralsky, Perm Krai – it translates as “plywood worker”. This is a mono town. Many towns in this area have one big factory or one big plant in the town in which many of the local residents work. The main factory here is a plywood factory and many players work there. They are not professional, they are not paid, and football is their hobby. We can see inside the changing room of the team with a tactics board and some reserve players and their beautiful pitch by the Kama River.
This match in Uralsky is FC “Fanerschik” vs “Fakel” Kueda in the Second Division of the Perm Krai championship. I like to document the countryside and not the big cities. Just two cities in Russia attract the money, Moscow and St Petersburg. All other cities, towns, regions and countryside are quite poor. Life there is like 30 years ago in Soviet times. They have the same stadiums, the same citizens, the same interests in life and the same beliefs in politics and economics.
In Uralsky there was an analogue scoreboard painted 0-0, so it cannot be changed! The names of the teams can be changed with a ladder. But once a team scores, the scoreboard is useless—it’s just used to announce the teams. This was a cup game. In the Russian language, there is a river named Kama. One of these teams is named Kama, the other one can be translated as “territory around Kama”, and so it’s a real derby match!
In Chusovoy, Perm Krai there was a bad knee injury for one of the players. Seven players carried him off the pitch because he could not walk. Local medical help was not very supportive, so a local doctor called an ambulance. This situation is related to the economic situation in Russia. If there had been an ambulance available in the town, it would have arrived in less than 30 minutes, but it didn’t and this boy was in a lot of pain. The economic crisis in the country affects many aspects of football, including financial support of the teams, the condition of the pitches, and even the availability of medical care at the stadiums.
Goal Click was created in 2014 as a new global football photography project. The ambition of Goal Click is to find one person from every country in the world and send each of them one disposable analogue camera. The photographers take photos that symbolize football in their country, lead to a football photography exhibition, and create a unique football community.
The project aims to show the similarities and differences of football around the world—the issues, the passion it creates, and the way football can unite people in unstable parts of the world. Goal Click is now officially active in over 50 countries, with photos already published from Sierra Leone, India, Iraq, Serbia, Australia and Russia.
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