Gundeep Anand is on a mission to unite communities across London. Last year, he set up street football tournament The Last Stand to bring together young people from different postcodes. He secured a venue, a DJ and security staff and put on a free event at a leisure centre in west London.
Anand also made a documentary about the project showcasing the players who took part. He is now organising a follow-up tournament and working with production company Rattling Stick and post house The Mill to create a set of films telling the stories of competing teams.
He hopes the project will inspire young people to pursue their passion – be it music, football or filmmaking. He also hopes it will encourage them to set aside their differences and bond over a shared love of sport.
Anand studied civil engineering before working as a sports coach. He got into photography after a friend asked him to make a music video – “I wanted to do film but I couldn’t afford the equipment,” he says. He began taking pictures and sharing them online and received a commission from M&C Saatchi to shoot boxer Amir Khan. He has since worked on projects for Adidas, Honda and the Premier League.
When coaching on estates in Shepherd’s Bush and Ladbroke Grove, Anand says he met a lot of young people who didn’t believe they could achieve much with their lives. He set up The Last Stand to change their minds – “I wanted to show them that you can make things happen if you want them to,” he says.
The first tournament took place in November last year and was followed by a meal at Nando’s for all the players. “We had kids as young as ten and pensioners turning up to watch,” says Anand. “People loved it … because they hadn’t seen someone bringing an event like that to their community.”
Anand says players also made lasting friendships with young people from other parts of London – people they might not otherwise have met. “[That’s] the power of the sport, it can unite and break all these barriers. Once people start to play, they realise they have more in common than they do differences and it starts a conversation,” he explains.
In the run up to the event, Anand created promo videos about each of the teams taking part. He also made a documentary about the tournament which was screened at a London cinema for players and their friends and families. He says the film has inspired many of the footballers – and other young people involved in the tournament – to get involved in creative projects and collaborate with others.
“Being involved with this has made a lot of [the players] believe they can do something with their life,” he says. “All of a sudden, we put the spotlight on them and gave them a platform, and not only are they coming and playing [football], they’re thinking of new ways to get the word out and collaborate with other artists to build their own brand.”
One player has since started writing and making his own films and another is launching a clothing brand. Some teams have created team logos and launched websites or secured sponsorship deals with sports brands while others have organised charity events.
Anand is now organising a second tournament and is hoping to raise £4,500 through crowd funding site IndieGoGo to cover the cost of putting it on. The tournament will take place on June 15 with the winners receiving a Nando’s and the losers, a meal at Chicken Cottage.
He has also recruited six emerging filmmakers to create a film about each of the teams taking part. Films feature tracks from local musicians and producers who were invited to create original music for the project and record it at a studio.
Production company Rattling Stick is providing Anand with production support and office space to work on the project while The Mill has allowed editor Remi Aaron time out to help edit films. After the tournament, Anand is hoping to create an exhibition showcasing films and photographs from the event.
London post house Freefolk is also supporting the project and will be broadcasting The Last Stand film content in the windows of their Wardour Street office.
Anand says the aim is to create “genuine opportunities” for young people in London. As well as inspiring more people to get together and play football, he hopes it will encourage aspiring photographers, filmmakers and musicians to start making their own content or even pursue creative careers.
“It’s about creating real change for these kids and enabling them to become positive role models for change for the younger members within their communities,” he adds.