Football Beyond Borders

Photographer Sebastian Barros captured moments of connection on the pitch as London's teens returned to school after too many months inside.

There’s no denying it: today’s teens have it tough. Grappling with the triple threat of recession, the pandemic and climate change, as well as the systemic issues of racism, classism and queerphobia, what many term the “best days of your life” aren’t really so rosy for many young people right now.

With that in mind, Sebastian Barros‘ new project is a refreshing reminder that there are still moments of joy which can transcend these grim realities. Capturing  students as they return to school and reunite with friends and chosen family after lockdown, he immortalises these fleeting moments of peace and community in “What’s Good”, a series of photos created by following teens and young people  involved with programmes at Football Beyond Borders, a charity harnessing the power of football to change lives.

"Silvia, Abi" by Sebastian Barros

Are you a football fan yourself?

Yes, currently a suffering Arsenal fan, we didn’t do too well this season. My relationship with sport though is mainly through the [photography] projects I work on. One of the many things that I love about what I do is that it enables me to experience many different things.


Who are some of your creative inspirations? 

I don’t really draw my inspirations from one specific person or place. I just try to consume different points of view. During lockdown I was getting a lot from podcasts but now the galleries are open again in London, I’ve tried to get out more and see as much as I can. It’s a fascinating time for editorial too. I’ve enjoyed reading print magazines recently.


Can you tell us how this photo series came about?

As the kids were going back to school, I wanted to create a photo series based on that moment of reconnecting with friends after spending months apart.


What does Football Beyond Borders, or  FBB, do as a charity?

FBB is an education and social inclusion charity that’s using the power of football to change the lives of young people. It supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are passionate about football but disengaged at school, in order to help them finish school with the skills and grades to make a successful transition into adulthood. They do this by providing long-term, intensive support, built around relationships and young people’s passions, in the classroom and beyond.

“Turbine” by Sebastian Barros

Sounds very meaningful. Let’s circle back to your photo series, what was it that you were you trying to capture?

Those moments of connection that are unique to every friendship.


And what about the casting? The individuals involved seem to have a really genuine bond.

There wasn’t much casting involved to be honest, it’s meant to represent real life. When I explained the project idea to FBB, they put me in the programmes where the kids had spent a lot of time with each other and were already friends. That closeness and friendship was key to the success of the project.


What’s been the best part of seeing this series get published and go out into the world?

For me, the positive vibes it has given everyone. The last year has been really tough on everyone, physically and mentally, and we’re all craving a bit of human connection. I wanted this series to shine a light at the end of the tunnel that has been the past year.


Finally, what’s next for you?

I have a lot of projects on the go at the moment, both commercial and personal. The one personal project I’ve been working on for the past year that I’m most excited about is the one I’m doing with the Grenfell Athletic football club. The team was formed immediately after the tragic fire in 2017 as a kind of lifeboat for the community. There are so many exciting things planned for them over the next year, and I feel really privileged to be on that journey with them.


Follow Sebastian Barros here and donate to Football Beyond Borders here

“Fist Bump” by Sebastian Barros
“Andrae” by Sebastian Barros
“Micheal, Andrae, Nathaniel” by Sebastian Barros
“Fernando” by Sebastian Barros
“Adam” by Sebastian Barros
“Agalya, Arya” by Sebastian Barros
“Adam, Fernando” by Sebastian Barros
All PhotographySebastian Barros
Cover Image"What's Good" by Sebastian Barros