The popularity of football everywhere but the United States is a widely acknowledged fact within the United States. In one of those fascinating paradoxes, we know what our ignorance is. National Geographic made it a cover story, and the book How Soccer Explains the World was a best-seller.
It is one thing to be aware of this in the abstract, though. It is something else entirely to actually see it in person. Nakuru and the boys at the center are no different from the rest of the world in their love of this sport. Football is their game. They have a dirt field: mostly flat and mostly clear of debris and about the right size. They have sidelines: shrubs and patches of thick grass. They have goals: long tree branches planted firmly into the ground. They have a volleyball. They have no sport shoes, but that's no problem. They have enough to play, and they play hard every afternoon.
Football gives the center a particular international flair, too, beyond the whole International Humanity Foundation thing. Pictures of the English club Manchester United are clipped from newspapers and pasted on the boys' bedroom walls. Given that Kenya has already been eliminated from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, they are prepared to cheer for Brazil.
On a side note, I hate sports photography. Not the pictures themselves. Sports Illustrated and ESPN Magazine devote full-page spreads to single pictures for good reason. There's conflict and high emotion, all elements of a great dramatic picture. And I respect that sports photographers have skills, that their craft is not merely focusing on whomever has the ball and opening the shutter every fraction of a second, something anyone could do. What frustrates me is that the best sports pictures cannot be planned in any sense. This one? An accident. I was not trying to shoot it at all and was hardly aiming, but it turned the best of all those I took during the game. My photography should be more purposeful than that.
2 years ago