Jake Daniels’ coming out has changed football

A 17-year-old’s courage broke one of football’s biggest taboos

The nervous shaking of legs, the clasped hands: small details that form “a great football moment”, as Manchester United legend Gary Neville called it. Jake Daniels, a 17-year-old Blackpool striker, has broken a taboo seemingly impossible to even scratch: he has publicly declared his homosexuality, becoming the first active British pro footballer to do so since the very distant 1990 and tragic existence of Justin Fashanu.

“Now is the right time to do it. I feel like I am ready to tell people my story. I want people to know the real me. I have been thinking for a long time about how I want to do it, when I want to do it. I know now is the time. I am ready to be myself, be free and be confident with it all”, he says at the beginning of a long and emotional interview with Sky.

The inside of a locker room, the orange-mandarin uniforms of the ‘Seasiders,’ the tension that becomes freedom word after word, breath after breath. Daniels’ testimony is a moment of simple, complex social-sports history: “I can’t really put a date on it, but I was probably five or six years old when I knew I was gay. So it’s been a long time that I have been living with the lie. At that age you don’t really think that football and being gay doesn’t mix”, an assumption that cannot be disproved. Because Daniels’ young and direct words frame one of the darkest sides of the football universe: the universe of dominant masculinity, of all-encompassing machismo.

A legacy constantly fed by media that keep narrating the achievements of the football star-latin lover and sublimating the captain-top model or influencer dualism, handing down, scoop after scoop, the obligatory association between footballers and heterosexual icons. “You just think, one day, when I’m older I’ll get a girlfriend and I will change and it will be fine. But as you get older you realise you can’t just change. It doesn’t work like that. I did have girlfriends in the past, to try and make all my mates think I was straight, but it was just a massive cover-up. In school people even used to ask me: “Are you sure you aren’t gay?”. And I would reply, “no, I’m not”. For a long time I’ve thought I would have to hide my truth because I wanted to be, and now I am, a professional footballer. I asked myself if I should wait until I’ve retired to come out. No other player in the professional game here is out. The subject of being gay, or bi or queer in men’s football is still a taboo. I think it comes down to how a lot of footballers want to be known for their masculinity. And people see being gay as being weak, something you can be picked on for on the football field.I am hoping that by coming out, I can be a role model, to help others come out if they want to”.

The noble intentions of this brave 17-year-old immediately found support from his teammates, other clubs and the FA, as well as the admiring endorsement of many colleagues, including former German midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, who declared himself shortly after retiring.

The hope, now, is that this wave of solidarity may open the door to many more similar testimonies, may stimulate even high-ranking players to lay down artifactual masks and to educate, through the courage of the truth, the new generations to an inclusive football: “I am only 17 but I am clear that this is what I want to do and if, by me coming out, other people look at me and feel maybe they can do it as well, that would be brilliant. If they think this kid is brave enough do this, I will be able to do it too. I hate knowing people are in the same situation I was in. I think if a Premier League footballer does come out that would just be amazing. I feel like I would have done my job and inspired someone else to do that. I just want it to go up from here. We shouldn’t be where we are right now. I know that every situation is different and that there are a lot of different factors for other people to consider that will scare them a lot, especially in football. And if you think you are ready, then speak to people”.


Jean-Michel Basquiat and sports art, an indissoluble bond

From baseball to football, from boxing to Jesse Owens. In Basquiat’s socio-artistic reflections, sport has always been a protagonist.

A curious stroll in the streets of New York. Some appreciation to the girls you meet, a handshake with a friend, a nod to the neighborhood drug dealer. A fit of creative hysteria branded SAMO© in one of the endless empty spaces of the Big Apple. An apparently ordinary, common existence. In that SAMO©, however, there is something special: it is not only “SAMe Old shit”, it is not the trivial tag of some writer. It is an artistic fury at the limits of obsessiveness, the pictorial scream of someone who gives voice to his inner demons. It’s the essence of Jean-Michel Basquiat, the trait d’union between artistic dynamism dominated by his own instincts and the static nature of daily routine.

Basquiat’s childhood was turbulent: his parents divorced when he was only a teenager, his mother was often a hostage in psychiatric institutions and his father was violent. Jean-Michel, endowed with an extremely sensitive personality, runs away from home and begins to wander the streets of New York. Basquiat has the great capacity to absorb everything that surrounds him, storing concepts and ideas that he later transfers in his works. One of the greatest sources of inspiration for the New York artist is sport, an element strongly rooted in contemporary American culture.

For the African American community, of which Basquiat himself is a part, sport is something that goes beyond entertainment or being a pro. It has been one of the first vehicles able to give global visibility to a community as numerous as it is oppressed and rarely heard. “Famous Negro Athletes” is one of the first works where Basquiat’s artistic genius merges with the sporting universe. The series of artwork, which initially began as graffiti, is subject to a dual interpretation.

The works are characterized by essential and decisive traits, a frenetic succession of lines that build easily recognizable elements such as a baseball, the famous three-pointed crown, human faces white, black or both colors. The colours have a very precise meaning: in the half-white and half-black face there is social denunciation, the will to highlight how Afro people are considered equal to white people only after sporting success. The baseball symbol could be interpreted as a criticism of sport as the only means of emancipation: art and managerial or political careers are still a mirage in the eighties.

“I do not care if you like me. I just want you to respect me like you do with other people.”

Jackie Robinson found in baseball the stage to express his ideas and demonstrate the strength of the black community, becoming the second baseman of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s. Basquiat dedicates “Untitled” to Jackie, one of his most famous sports-themed works. Robinson is a true icon for the young artist of Haitian and Puerto Rican origins, and in “Untitled” his figure is sanctified by the presence of the audience formed by angels in adoration of the Dodger and the iconic crown. Basquiat is fascinated by baseball, a team sport in which the individual has enormous possibilities to decide the fate of the match. Robinson here is not only the first African-American player to play in the MLB means to represent change, but is a sort of Christ for the African-American sporting universe. Justice, equality, fraternity. Catholic values are interesting keys to understand the choice of Jackie Robinson as the main subject of Basquiat’s work.

Jean-Michel is a true experimenter: works of art and everyday objects find new life after being filtered by the creative genius of Basquiat. “Anti-product Baseball Cards” is a project realized in collaboration with Jennifer Stein aimed at revolutionizing and reinventing a mass product such as baseball cards. The faces and biographies of the players are completely erased, giving a curious anonymous charm to every single card. A barely recognizable Steve Henderson thus becomes “Joe”, while “Jerk” is probably Bob Randall. The athletes’ loss of identity is the key step in transforming a simple card into a non-product, a unique work of art derived from commercial seriality.

Fight to defend your honor. Step into the ring to demonstrate your strength and earn the respect of society. Boxing was one of the first sports where athletes were able to use their triumphs in order to raise awareness and alert public opinion. Basquiat is fascinated by the great boxers able to defeat two opponents such as racism and social injustice. In 1981 he created “The Ring”, a work in which Basquiat himself is represented inside the triumphant ring. The arms to the sky in victory seem to exalt the artistic and social success of the artist.

Basquiat’s heroes coincide with the idols of African-American culture. Heroes who have defeated racism with their gloves like Cassius Clay, Jack Johnson, Sugar Ray Robinson or Jersey Joe Walcott. They are the inspiring muses and protagonists in Basquiat’s works. Contrary to most of his paintings characterized by a sort of orderly hysteria, the works dedicated to the great boxers of the past are surprisingly essential: only a few decisive strokes that make up a close-up of the athlete, suggestive visual hagiographies that make immortal their sporting and human feats.

Basquiat’s art has an obvious and deep connection to boxing itself. Brushstrokes as decisive as a jab, social messages that hit as hard as a powerful right hand to the hip. Jean-Michel is the promise of artistic boxing worldwide and who but the great artist and friend Andy Warhol could represent the perfect challenger for the rising star of world art? During the preparation for an important exhibition in which their works were exhibited, the two artists organized a fake boxing show in which Warhol seemed ready to test all the artistic strength of the young Basquiat. This fantasy match has given rise to a series of incredible shots, images that are able to capture the essence of boxing, art and friendship between Andy and Jean-Michel.

Jesse Ownes is one of the first athletes able to accelerate the process of social equality. In 1936, the “ebony bolt” born in Oakville participated in the Olympic Games in Berlin. Owens, an African-American athlete, ruined Hitler’s plans by climbing the top step of the podium in four different specialties, shattering every record. The physical power demonstrated during the Olympics, in a historical period when the concept of race was still well rooted worldwide, could only inspire Jean-Michel Basquiat for the creation of “Dark Race Horse”. The work, created on a black background, represents an anatomical detail of Jesse Owens: the foot capable of defeating Nazi propaganda.

Sports and pop culture are known to be two of the biggest influences in Basquiat’s work. In the American sports universe, the most followed league is the NFL: the National Football League. The New York-based artist is attracted to a specific element of this sport, the helmet: the helmet that every player carries in their sporting battle. “Untitled (Football Helmet)” plays on two opposite concepts: on the one hand, the athletic power of African Americans expressed in every match, on the other hand we find the vulnerability and the need to be protected from racist ideas still present in society.

The artistic, cultural and social heritage that Jean-Michel Basquiat left behind is boundless and priceless. During the 2020-2021 season, the NBA franchise Brooklyn Nets have decided to unite the two most important and influential hemispheres of the famous Long Island neighborhood: art and basketball. Basquiat’s style is strongly recognizable both on the floor of the Barclays Center, the Nets’ home arena, and in their “city edition” uniforms. NBA star and Nets leader Kevin Durant recently said he sees Basquiat as a great source of inspiration: “I want to see how he got to that point mastering his craft”. There is an indissoluble bond between Basquiat and sport. The athletes represented in his works are more than just athletes, they are often considered real gods. An artistic and sporting polytheism that Jean-Michel has tried to recreate in his works both to glorify their successes and to continue the battle of the African-American community against racism and social inequality. His art, like the medals achieved by the athletes he portrays, is simply immortal.

Text by: Filippo Vianello


URBEX, cycling as urban exploration

New generations of riders are changing cities, MET tells us how

Reinventing urban exploration. Boundless spaces of the metropolis, abandoned industrial amphitheatres, unknown suburbs… That’s where the real beating heart of big cities is: in the working-class buildings of the Milan hinterland, in the London suburbs, in the farthest districts of the Eternal City. Buildings often seemingly anonymous, devoid of history, sons of a bizarre building plan stipulated to quickly solve the housing crisis. Emblematic, ghostly places that are able to attract an increasing number of visitors fascinated by the majesty of these concrete giants.

Exploring these neighborhoods means having to deal with the suffocating city congestion, to defeat it. That’s why you need a more practical and lighter means of transport, capable of zigzagging between cars: in other words, you need a bicycle. MET Helmets, one of the world’s most famous helmet manufacturers, has followed French DJ Matéo Montero on his urban explorations in a project called Urbex.

“My bike is the king,” Montero says proudly, a testament to the incredible efficiency of the two wheels in the urban jungle. For this former cyclist, the bike is much more than a means of transportation. It’s a bridge capable to bring different cultures and personalities together. It’s almost unconditional freedom of movement. It’s the only way to get out of the downtown traffic jam and reduce your environmental impact.

After having already collaborated with MET Helmets, Achille Mauri and Stefano Steno were contacted to realize the audiovisual project of URBEX MIPS. Their ability to capture the authenticity and essence of every corner of Rome is definitely out of the ordinary: thanks to a particularly effective and captivating storytelling, the project directed by Mauri is able to gather all the nuances of urban exploration in just three minutes.

The Terrazza del Pincio, some abandoned suburban buildings. Sampietrini, neglected asphalt or new spaces still under construction. The scenic nuances of urban exploration are potentially endless, just like the challenges or difficulties one may encounter during the journey. Between iconic monuments and abandoned buildings, a new generation of explorers is ready to conquer our cities.

Project by MET Helmets
IG @met_helmets

Pictures by Ulysse Daessle
IG @ulyssedaessle

Video:
Directed by @achillemauri.eu
Cinematography by @stefanosteno
Music by @_anddot
Sound Designer @tommaso.simonetta
Title Designer @samsala.studio
Starring @rawmance707
Voice @rawmance707

Text by Filippo Vianello


Basketball speaks Aussie: Nike Prahran Summer Jam

Mitch Fong’s shots take us inside the Australia’s most iconic basketball festival

The Nike Prahran Summer Jam brings together different cultures and personalities. Skaters, street artists and basketball players share the same urban space in a microcosm where meritocracy and respect are the only two rules.

Born in 2012 from the minds of Eamon Larman-Ripon and Daniel Ella, Prahran’s Summer Jam has quickly established itself as the Mecca of Australian streetball. Supported by Nike and House of Hoops by Foot Locker, the festival has attracted hundreds of players and street artists from around the globe over the years.

The Australian basketball culture is quickly expanding and is gaining more and more credibility thanks to the high attractiveness of its league, the NBL. For example Lamelo Ball, star of the Hornets, and RJ Hampton, a talented guard for the Orlando Magic, preferred to compete against the professionals of the top oceanic league before the NBA Draft.

The national movement churns out top level athletes every year: Andrew Bogut, Joe Ingles and Patty Mills have been true pioneers in bringing the basketball culture of the aussies overseas. Following in their footsteps we can now admire Josh Green, dynamic guard chosen by the Mavericks in 2020 and Joshua Giddey, the new wonder boy of the Oklahoma City Thunder who in his first year destroyed Luka Doncic’s record, becoming the youngest player ever to record a triple double.

More and more players are dreaming of hitting the floors of the biggest arenas in the U.S., and it’s no coincidence that the number of teams participating in a major showcase like the Summer Jam grows each year.

Now in its tenth year, the Nike Prahran Summer Jam has attracted thousands of spectators. Live music, food corners, a spectacular dunk contest and the new event in Perth… The numbers of Australia’s most iconic tournament are destined to grow exponentially for the next editions.

Although the event has a strong basketball focus, Larman-Ripon, in a recent interview for Pick and Roll wanted also to emphasize the importance of the cultural roots regarding his project: “This event is so much more than basketball and it always has been. It’s family, it’s community, it’s music, arts, food…it’s all built on culture”.

That’s why the tenth anniversary seems to be just the starting point for this all-around event.

Mitch Fong
IG @mitchfongphoto
mitchellfong.com

Text by Filippo Vianello


MBOGI AMANI and the Evolution of African Cycling

The film supported by Brooks England that describes the hopes and dreams of cyclists in East Africa

Changing the face of cycling. The virtuous reality of the AMANI Migration Gravel Race, a race that has broadened the horizons of the best cyclists in East Africa, revolves around these words.

Organized for the first time in Kenya in 2021, this event is intended to be the manifesto of an epoch-making sports transition, aimed at evolving the entire African cycling movement and breaking down barriers that for years have limited this discipline throughout the continent.

The exciting film ‘MBOGI AMANI’, supported in its production by Brooks England, portrays this wind of change radiating from Team Amani and many other talented East African cyclists who, through their pedaling on gravel bikes, are looking to break into the global cycling scene.

This marvelous short film combines personal stories, endless red straights and evocative sunrises, making it clear how relevant two wheels are in these lands and how much room for growth this sport has in Africa. Enjoy.

Credits: BROOKS ENGLAND
IG @brooksengland
brooksengland.com

Text by Gianmarco Pacione


‘The Queen of Basketball’, an Oscar award for a forgotten queen

The story of Lusia Harris and her majestic basketball lost in time

The night of the Oscars in LA saw the triumph in the category Best Documentary (short subject) of the movie ‘The Queen of Basketball’.

Produced by sacred monsters of men’s basketball past and present such as Shaquille O’Neal and Steph Curry, this documentary directed by Canadian filmmaker Ben Proudfoot chronicles the forgotten exploits of Lusia Harris.

Born in deep Mississipi and raised with six siblings near a well-worn home basketball hoop, ‘Queen Lucy’ literally changed women’s basketball throughout the 1970s.

Over six feet tall, soft and polite hands, a physical power balanced by a natural elegance: these ante-litteram characteristics shocked the USA sports environment and saw her college, the tiny Delta State University, rise to the position of invincible Cinderella in the national panorama.

Harris’ success and fame reached its peak during the 1976 Montreal Olympics, when the 21-year-old center scored the first basket in the history of women’s Olympic basketball, and the following summer, when she was selected in the NBA Draft by the New Orleans Jazz. At that time, in fact, there were no female professional leagues and ‘Queen Lucy’ was considered equal to her male colleagues.

However, Lusia decided to refuse the NBA opportunity, to interrupt her basketball career and to coach in her hometown. In a few years, her name began to fade into obscurity, sucked out of a quiet existence lived as a mother and educator. ‘The Queen of Basketball’ sheds light on this extraordinary sports story that has fallen into oblivion, tracing Lusia’s biography through her own words.

The documentary distributed by the New York Times is a true testament to a giant of basketball, made even more significant by Harris’ recent death. We present it a few days after the award ceremony on the stage of the Dolby Theatre. Enjoy.


Athleta’s Shelf – The Finishers: The Barkley Marathons

Alexis Berg and Aurélien Delfosse’s book about the craziest marathon in the world

Alexis Berg’s photos and Aurélien Delfosse’s pen have travelled all over the United States to hear and tell the incredible stories of the heroes capable of completing The Barkley Marathon, one of the most iconic races in the world.

The Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee. A yellow gate in the middle of the forest, not far from the place where James Earl Ray, the assassin of Martin Luther King, was imprisoned. We are undoubtedly in one of the symbolic places of the American culture. A dark, ghostly setting, perfectly matched to the halo of mystery surrounding the selection criteria for a race with a legendary breath.

Forty runners with an uncommon determination challenge their physical and mental limits every year in order to enter the sporting Olympus reserved for those who finish the race within the set time. 160 kilometers, with a total elevation climb equal to two ascents of Mount Everest. The full race consists of five complete laps of the hostile Barkley Loop in 60 hours. A titanic challenge, confirmed by the words of the disclaimer that each participant signs before starting the race: “If I am stupid enough to attempt the Barkley, I deserve to be held responsible for any result of that attempt, be it financial, physical, mental or anything else”.

Nowadays, it’s well-known that the sports universe is dominated by sponsors and fame. Barkley, on the contrary, is only fueled with the passion of its participants. No sponsors, no media, just a small fee of $1.60 to participate. Virgins, those who take part in this gruelling event for the first time, are also required to donate a license plate from their home state. The Veterans’ donation instead includes gifts of all kinds: cans of Dr. Pepper, cigarettes packs or items of clothing.

The beneficiary of the gifts is Lazarus Lake, the man whose thick beard conceals all Barkley’s secrets since its creation. Moreover, as the Founding Father, he personally chooses the participants of the competition, analysing the motivations of each athlete. After a careful examination of all the applications and an official convocation containing the condolences of Laz, the date of the competition is fixed, but not the time. Laz himself blows a conch shell, and around one hour later he declares the start of the 60-hour race by lighting a cigarette.

Since 1995, only 15 participants have managed to complete this heroic run that alternates fatigue and mysticism. Far from the spotlight and fame, in a context that is perhaps too anonymous for their impressive achievement, the demigods who have completed the race dive into their memories and tell their life stories in the passionated interviews collected in this book.

Ph Alexis Berg
IG @alexis_berg

Publisher Thames & Hudson
IG @thamesandhudson
thamesandhudson.com

Text by Filippo Vianello


Athleta’s Shelf – Wanderlust Himalaya

Gestalten and Cam Honan’s book takes us to one of the most fascinating places on the planet

Suggestive amphitheatres of ice, colourful villages soaked in tradition. Himalaya is an astonishing blend of nature and civilisation. A prehistoric landscape where time seems to stand still. A natural temple guarded by a few privileged custodians who try to ensure that its sacredness is respected in a historical period characterised by mass tourism. Himalaya, home of the snows, has conquered the imagination of mankind for centuries.

A slow pilgrimage to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The constant inner need to test our own limits. The nuances of hiking are potentially infinite: Cam Honan knows this well. In his thirty years career, he has crossed 56 different countries, covering more than 96,500 kilometres. His latest book, created in collaboration with Gestalten, takes us on a journey of discovery through some of the world’s wildest and most fascinating territories. A literary and photographic trip that starts at the source of the Gange river and crosses 5 different countries.

Annapurna, K2 and Everest are undoubtedly some of the most intriguing peaks in the Himalayan Mountain territory. The first two, sadly infamous for being man-eaters, continue to attract every year thousands of hikers from all over the globe. They are all driven by the possibility of accomplishing a feat that has so far only been achieved by a select few. Conquering all the 8848 meters of the Mount Everest, the ‘Goddes Mother of the World’ as it’s known in Nepalese culture, is without doubt one of the dreams of every mountaineering enthusiast. The itineraries proposed by Horan are well detailed, with numerous firsthand tips that allow to plan excursions according to everyone’s needs and abilities.

Anuj D. Adhikary, Wanderlust Himalaya, Gestalten 2022
Pete R, Wanderlust Himalaya, Gestalten 2022

In addition to the naturalistic aspect, the book also offers an interesting focus on the cultural dimension of Himalaya. Bumthang district is a small concentration of villages in the northern heart of the country. A precious gem set on the slopes of Chura Kang, that jealously guards the secrets of yathra cloth, the first defence against the freezing Himalayan winter. Even today, the women of the village meet every day under the same roof and with their skillful hands create unique garments in terms of materials, geometries and colours.

It would be reductive and unfair to reduce ‘Wanderlust Himalaya’ to a simple guidebook. Combining particularly effective storytelling with simply breathtaking shots, Cam Honan and Gestalten give the reader the impression of travelling even from their comfy armchair at home.

Photo
Jamie McGuinness
Anuj D. Adhikary
Pete R
Tyler “Mac” Fox
Feng Wei

Gestalten
IG @gestalten
gestalten.com


Africathletics, running towards a better future

We are proud to announce our collaboration with Africathletics: the cultural project that, through athletics, helps the progress of young Malawians

‘Run With Us, We Never Stop’. The claim of Africathletics encapsulates the soul and meaning of this virtuous idea. Athletics is the true cornerstone of this multi-faceted project: this fulcrum activity is connected to a series of elements aimed at individual and collective development, such as academics and nutrition.

“The genesis of the project dates back to 2015 and is closely linked to the sports component,” explains Giulia Marazzini the communication manager, “Mario Pavan and Enrico Tirel, the two founders of Africathletics, were 400 runners and track friends. During a meeting, they stopped in front of a banquet of a non-profit organization operating in Africa and decided to make their first experience as volunteers. After a month in Zambia, they wanted to continue their journey in Africa and arrived in Monkey Bay, a small town located on the southern shores of Lake Malawi. In that place they discovered an earthly paradise and decided to develop a project focused on athletics”

Malawi is a narrow tongue of land in southeastern Africa. In this former British colony, three-quarters of the population lives on less than two dollars a day and 12% of Malawians are afflicted by the scourge of HIV. Here, framed by the Great Riff Valley, Mario and Enrico’s multidimensional idea took shape.

“Athletics is the driving element of our project. It’s a tool that helps to evolve the new generations, it allows them to learn the need for a long-term vision: in order to achieve sports results, after all, you need to practice. Every year we give the opportunity to about 200 boys and girls to participate in our project, then we select the most deserving ones focusing on athletic and scholastic performance, in addition to family conditions, finally we assign them scholarships”

Africathletics has grown over time, becoming a force more and more capable of breaking down centuries-old barriers and broadening cultural horizons. A growth that, unfortunately, was sparked by a tragic event, the death of the just 25-year-old vice-president Mario. The reaction to this painful loss was immediate, and led many new figures and Italian volunteers to join the project.

A project that sees scholarships as a fundamental tool to impact the youth of Monkey Bay. The scholarships allow for training with the help of sports instructors, English teachers and a proper diet: a combination of elements that releases a rare power, able to change for the better a single life and, consequently, the entire community.

“We try to keep up with the community. We try to keep up with the community. For us, it’s critical that the project is experienced first and foremost by local residents and that they experience it as an integral part of the community. We want the project to live on even in our absence, we hope that one day it may even become self-sustaining. We are creating the coaches of the future and we are creating the good society of the future by giving young people the chance to learn English properly: it’s a necessary tool to access secondary school. Malawi’s elementary school are often overcrowded, with classes of up to 200 children… Teachers speak the local Chichewa dialect and, after completing the first cycle of studies at age 8, less than 10% of students are able to continue their studies due to language deficiencies. That’s why we provide extra classes in English and math. We also address the issue of malnutrition: Malawi’s land is fertile, so there is no question of malnutrition, but the traditional diet is mostly nshima (a white porridge) and fried foods. With our food plan we are demonstrating how important this component is in the maturation of young Malawians”

Becoming aware of your body, mind, communication skills and future. The work of Africathletics also passes through the example of the first young people involved in the project, who today have grown culturally, as well as physically, and have become testimonials for the younger generation.

The work of Africathletics is also driven by the ‘Conquest of the Castle’, a running race organized annually in Feltre, whose proceeds are donated to the Malawian project, and by an editorial line with a high visual impact. Africathletics has decided to change the classic narrative of NGOs on social media, proposing aesthetic content: content that tells the positive soul of a project that is in continuous development.

“We don’t want to communicate sadness or hardship. Malawians are called ‘the people of the sun’, they always give joy and smiles. That’s why we bring with us photographers who are in line with our communicative idea, their images reflect our thinking. As a next step we would like to create a women’s 7-a-side rugby team. We believe this is fundamental to evolve the concept of women, a historically delicate issue in the African continent. The important thing, as always, will be to treat everything calmly and delicately, with respect for Malawian culture”

If you want to learn more about and support the Africathletics project, click here.

Ph Davide Gaudenzi
IG @davidegaudenzi_photo
davidegaudenzi.com

Ph Federico Ravassard 
IG @federico_ravassard
federicoravassard.com

Text by Gianmarco Pacione


Surf, military and Vietnam: Nigel Cabourn’s vision

The ‘China Beach Surf Club’ collection takes its cue from one of America’s most fascinating military and surfing histories

‘China Beach Surf Club’ is yet another visionary intuition of Nigel Cabourn. For his personal SS22 collection, the brilliant British fashion designer wanted to draw inspiration from one of the most original and fascinating stories in American military history: the legend of an atypical surfing community.

Cabourn’s aesthetic, traditionally contaminated by workwear, military and vintage elements, in this case focuses on the distant 1967 and the tragic Vietnam War. Guerrilla warfare, terrorism and political-military failures… In the hostile Vietnamese territory, the American military also decided to relax their nerves and bodies by relying on the benefits of surfing.

It was Larry Martin, a warehouseman in the US Navy, who came up with this intuition. The young soldier was stationed in the strategic port town of Da Nang and proposed to his superiors to let his fellow soldiers ride the waves of China Beach, code name for My Khe Beach. The request was granted, boards began to glide over the South China Sea and the ‘China Beach Surf Club’ quickly took shape.

The Marines who returned from trying offensives, such as the famous Têt, and from the terrifying front line mowed down by the Viet Cong, used surfing as a primary therapeutic tool and became an unconventional symbol of American surfing culture.

Many of the boards used by those servicemen now populate the stars and stripes museums, many of those guys even went back to Vietnam to relive the sensations felt on the waves of China Beach. Nigel Cabourn is not the first artist or creative to draw on the pop influence of this iconic club: another example is the masterpiece film Apocalypse Now, directed by the sacred monster Francis Ford Coppola.

Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore, played by Robert Duvall, comes into contact with the surf element in some of the movie’s most iconic scenes. In one of these, referring to his enemies, he utters the historic phrase “Charlie don’t surf”.

In Cabourn’s new collection every product becomes history, every photographed board becomes a reference, every detail becomes a trait d’union between the present of fashion and the sport-military past, creating a combination of high cultural and aesthetic value.