During filming for the final Hyundai Fan Film Fund feature on the incredible story of Liberi Nantes we caught up with the people from ‘Football Asylum’ a project giving an insight into the lives of young refugees from a different and unusual perspective.
The three Rome based photographers, Claudio Cesarano, Laura Montanari and Marco Mastrojanni, look to show how a shared passion for football has brought the refugees closer to each other beyond ethnicity, language or religion – a story of asylum through sport.
The project starts from the playing field of Liberi Nantes, a football team based in Rome that has enrolled into the local league; the team is entirely composed of asylum seekers from various countries in Central Africa (Gambia, Mali, Burkina Faso, etc.).
Football Asylum documents everything from the pitch they play on, to their extended lives inside the refugee camps of Italy.
Inside the camps, the daily life of a refuge runs slow. Entire days are spent waiting. Alone. In limbo, that can sometimes last months or even years waiting for an answer from local commissions. The question circling their minds? Will their request for political asylum be accepted, or not?
With the political agenda in Italy and Europe reaching a critical state on migration, refugees and integration issues, Football Asylum takes a different point of view on these topics. It tells a story of suspension, expectations, complexity, but at the same time, it also tells a story of redemption, rebirth and integration. Because for many of these young men, playing football again is somehow like starting to live again.