For a collection of recreational footballers who meet up three times a week at a Cardiff park those dreams of seeing their own smiling faces staring back at them are now a reality.
Rather than the pages of the famed Panini World Cup sticker album though, these footballers have found recognition on a wall. Their faces plastered onto the side of a large end of terrace house on the corner of Richmond Road and Lowther Road which connects the Cathays and Roath districts of Cardiff.
The photographs form part of art project, Roath Rec World XI which celebrates the multinational footballers, of all ages and of various different ethnicities that gather three times a week for a ‘pick up’ – or scratch game – of football at Roath Rec’, from which the project takes its name.
The project is the brainchild of Cardiff photographer Dan Green, who has been playing at the Rec’ with some of his subjects since the late 1980s, and who admits creating stickers of local footballers is such a simple idea he’s unsure if his are the first of a kind.
The ‘Panini style’ stickers are the focal point of the project; portrait photographs of Dan’s fellow players framed with their name, position and the flag of their home country.
The players are from all four corners of the globe, countries from Afghanistan to Zambia are included – bringing to life how far people have travelled and made Cardiff their home – and some are pictured smiling proudly above the flag of two nations.
Dan has previously used the space on Lowther Road to display prints of his photographs and the stickers plastered on the wall are just a handful of more than 100 that are featured in an exhibition at the M.A.D.E Gallery in Lochaber Street, Roath – just a goal kick from the ‘Rec where the Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday evening kickabouts take place.
As well as the stickers the exhibition, which runs until the end of the ongoing World Cup (Sunday, July 13) features posters modelled on the park footballers and action shots from the Rec’ alongside quotes from the various players.
If at times the FIFA World Cup is in danger of being overshadowed by the governing body’s rampant commercialism, its political factions, backroom deals and allegations of corruption, the Roath Rec World XI is the beautiful game at its purest.
Football’s simplicity is what has made it the global game and the Roath Rec World XI celebrates how its universal appeal brings people from all ages, backgrounds, nationalities and ethnicities together week after week, year after year on a patch of recreation ground in just one city.
For more about the Roath Rec World XI project and Dan’s photography peep his website here