Troubles beyond the beautiful game

April 4, 2024

Photo by jason charters at Unsplash

Ehsen Hanif considers his football journey amid Vote Leave chaos

Growing up in the leafy London suburb of Barnet has given me access to a wealth of benefits, particularly through my beautiful multicultural community. This inclusive environment has played a pivotal role in shaping my identity and nurturing my growth.

This is my bubble; this is my home. However, engaging in a more adult world has come with many culture shocks and challenges. Until last year, I spent most weekends carefree, playing grassroots football. It wasn’t just entering a bubble of excitement, it also helped me overcome many obstacles.

I felt free yet connected, and I would always feel in a more positive mood, after a game with my friends.

However, as I got older, my relationship with football felt like it was on a countdown; the positives of playing gradually diminished until the pleasure eventually wore off completely.

While this change captures how I feel about a football match now, I think it also reflects the typical teenage experience, where your time and the decisions you make gradually take on greater seriousness and importance.

Additionally, the years during which I transitioned into being a teenager were plagued by the presence of the Vote Leave campaign and its ensuing consequences.

Anti Brexit campaign. Photo by Jannes Van den wouwer at Unsplash

Despite the challenges of Brexit, I’ve learnt how to engage and deal with opposing opinions

Brexit marked a massive change in the lives of every British person. However, for me with South Asian heritage, it wasn’t Brexit itself but the consequences of the campaign that brought about the most profound change.

The rise in anti-immigration sentiments, particularly targeted at Muslims, I found both disheartening and disillusioning, causing a significant shift in my perception of people and the world around me. This unsettling surge of prejudice made me question the values of the community I had always considered home.

Though the rhetoric often appeared xenophobic or racist on the surface, I believe it stemmed from an overload of misinformation and extremely inadequate journalism.

Despite the challenges, this change wasn’t entirely negative. It was a transformative time, teaching me not only resilience but also providing a deeper understanding of how to engage and deal with opposing opinions and diverse views.

Leaving the bubble of my childhood during this experience showed me the importance of facing difficult agendas and turning them into opportunities for valuable life lessons.

Ehsen is 17 years old and he studies Politics, Economics and Maths at Woodhouse College. He enjoys many sports from boxing to football. Ehsen loves art, fashion as well as writing and reading which has been a big inspiration for working with Exposure.

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