We recently sat down with Matthew Barrett, the founder of Goal Click — a global storytelling project about unique and powerful journeys that underlay the playing of sport at every level.
The aim of Goal Click is to inspire understanding of other people and their lives through the common language of football, using inspirational imagery and stories. Goal Click makes a conscious effort to cover stories that likely would have remained untold.
This is particularly important for women’s football where records often go missing or are not properly archived. It was a narrative from an Indian girls’ football team in Mumbai which helped set the tone for future projects.
In the first part of this interview, Matthew tells us his story and the story of Goal Click.
What women’s football image taken by Goal Click is most popular and why?
The photo by Sam Mewis of the US Women’s National Team of Rose Lavelle and Alex Morgan in the ice bath.
It is really special and could only have been taken by a teammate (which it was!). In a beautiful and intimate way, it captures the reality of their lives. It shows how they support one another. It shows them in a situation that you wouldn’t necessarily have expected them to be in. Importantly, the authenticity and candidness comes across in an unparalleled way.
What made you want to cover stories around women’s football?
We gravitate toward stories of women’s football because women and girls have different challenges to men when it comes to playing football. There are added layers of obstacles in every single country in the world — from the UK and the USA, to Brazil and Jordan, and everywhere in between.
In turn, this means that women and girls often have extra layers to their stories, since they have to fight against and overcome these deterrents to play the game. Therefore, naturally, women’s stories become more interesting. Many of the stories told are not in isolation.
Women’s football images taken as part of Goal Click projects often have deeper meanings behind them. Every photo in every story is by its very nature, both current and historical.
How do you think Goal Click has contributed to women’s football?
It is a two way conversation. We really want the storytellers to take control of their own narrative. They all have voices, and those voices are often silenced, unheard, and not given a platform. The women and girls that Goal Click works with, have often never really had the opportunity to tell their stories before. In the instances they have, it has been very limited.
The project aims to contribute by giving a unique platform for new voices to be heard. We try to use the platform to influence bigger organisations we work with. We encourage them to consider different types of voices and ways of telling those stories.
The Goal Click platform welcomes thought provoking viewpoints through the women that tell their stories. Once you read one, you can’t help but want to read another. We often create a series of stories alongside each other where there is a connection between the storytellers.
What is your favourite women in football moment that Goal Click has captured?
Definitely the Goal Click Refugees series in partnership with UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency, which can be found here.
Football often provides opportunities for refugees to find their feet again and rebuild their lives in a new society after the trauma of displacement. In some cases, this also may lead to more professional opportunities and potentially even to play at a higher level.
How many projects does Goal Click have related to women’s football? Can you tell us a bit about which are your favourites and why?
We created a really special project in 2019, a big year for women’s football with the World Cup in France. Seeing the women’s game from the US Women’s National Team right down to young girls in rural India, it really showed a huge, diverse spectrum of what is happening in the world of women’s football. It was a major series looking at the state of global women’s football from the grassroots to the elite.
It was an amazing moment in time where there wasn’t that much focus and energy on the women’s game. While this has drastically improved in the last few years, at the time, it really provided a behind the scenes look into the lives of women’s players in a way that had not been seen previously.
We received some really intimate raw photography from leading women’s players as well as girls from the grassroots, making it a really special project. The series was created in partnership with the New York Times.
Other very special stories deserving a mention include those from Pakistan and from Nepal, where the landscapes are incredible. In both stories, these girls are playing football with the Himalayas as the backdrop.
Taking into account the political and social context makes the photos that much more powerful and aesthetically interesting. Especially when you realise that these girls’ football leagues are often in places where their participation in the game has not been encouraged for a long time. This gives an extra layer of power to the images and stories.
This answer would not be complete without talking about the women and girls involved in our Goal Click Refugees series. This is an ongoing series in partnership with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and demonstrates the disadvantages that these girls playing football began at and overcame.
These girls are often born into cultures which do not necessarily encourage them to play.
They are refugees, which is another huge challenge. Often these girls are from places which have huge instability and conflict. They often have had to flee their homes and start over in a new country where they don’t speak the language.
The journeys of these girls and women create unique and often unprecedented stories. Stories that do not always have a platform to be effectively told without limitation. We are always in awe of where these people find the courage, strength and resilience to take an active part in sport and football in their new country that they are in, despite the odds being stacked so far against them.