‘What’s Good’? Sebastian Barros’ Photo Series Captures the Communal Joy of Post-Lockdown Hugs and Kickabouts

Photographer Sebastian Barros teams up with Football Beyond Borders to commemorate the relaunch of the charity’s programmes for school kids in love with the beautiful game.

WORDS Emily Blundell Owers

As the UK emerges from its long and lonely stretch of lockdowns, and social distancing restrictions are loosened, many of us are lucky enough to finally be able to meet up with loved ones whom we haven’t seen in months. These moments of reunion, and the resulting embraces and exchanges that have been so long coming, are at the centre of London-based photographer Sebastian Barros’ recent collaboration with education and social inclusion charity Football Beyond Borders.

Their union has resulted in a photo series entitled ‘What’s Good’ – a reference to the casual yet loaded question posed by young people everywhere as they reconnect with old friends – commemorating the return to intimacy that’s afforded by the long-awaited relaunch of youth sports programmes nationwide. Shot over six weeks across a number of London schools, the photos capture the frenetic joy and excitement of the return to play for the kids who make up Football Beyond Borders’ network of teams across the capital.

The charity, which supports children and teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds who may be disengaged in lessons but passionate about football, provides long-term, intensive support through a combination of education, counselling and coaching. Its programme, which runs for a minimum of one year in partner schools, aims to fuel its participating students’ ambitions in the classroom and beyond, helping them to finish school with both the grades and the skills necessary to successfully transition into adulthood.

Alongside the invaluable work that Football Beyond Borders’ programmes are doing for their participants’ futures, ‘What’s Good’ makes obvious just how much fun they’re having being a part of the scheme, on and off the pitch. It’s a beautiful thing to see the handshakes, embraces and breaking of bread (or rather, sharing of half-time sweets and snacks) between kids who have for so long been stuck at home in monotonous Zoom classrooms or masked up and distanced during in-person lessons.

“I wanted to capture that feeling of reconnecting [and] those playful, authentic moments of friends coming together for the first time in months,” Sebastian tells BRICKS. “The atmosphere was pretty special. The first session I shot was during the Easter holidays and it was one of the first warm days of the year. There’s something about London and the UK as a whole when the sun’s out that instantly lifts everyone’s mood, and with the added fact that this was one of the first moments all the kids got to see each other after the long dark winter months in lockdown. There was lots of hugging, fist-bumping and jokes between them, it was really special to see.

Football Beyond Borders has a huge and invaluable impact. A lot of the kids are at a crossroad in their lives when they go into [the] program… You can see from all of [the charity’s] success stories the positive impact their programs have had on kids’ mental health and self-esteem. I wish we had Football Beyond Borders at my school when I was growing up.”

To learn more about the work Football Beyond Borders do and how to get involved, visit their site, and to check out more of Sebastian Barros’ work, click here.

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