A new short film for Nike Football profiles Bobby Kasanga, an inspirational London soccer coach who reflects on his time in prison after being a gang member. After his incarceration, he went on to set up a club for kids in his community.
Kasanga founded London's Hackney Wick FC in 2015 and his story is part of a new online series focusing on grassroots football called "From the Grounds Up." Directed by Prettybird's Jess Kohl, it illustrates how Kasanga and his club have tried to tackle gang violence through football. The film opens with Kasanga giving his team a motivational talk, telling them how he ruined his promising soccer career by "following the wrong crowd" and ending up in prison for eight years.
Director Kohl worked with a creative team at Girls in Film on the project. "We met with Bobby as an initial part of the process, and as I listened to him speak I thought about how to communicate his story in an original and engaging way," she said in a statement. "He told us about the pep talks he gives his teams before games, and I asked him to talk to us as if we were his team. As soon as he started I knew this was how I wanted to approach the campaign—seeing him talking to the next generation felt like an emotive way to communicate his story, and allowed us to show the different personalities involved in Hackney Wick FC through the simple set up of a pep talk.”
The film, showing on Nike's Instagram TV, includes interviews with others who volunteer at the club as well as parents of team members, and ends with cellphone-shot footage of Kasanga on his way Downing Street to meet the Prime Minister last year.