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Soweto vue du ciel
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Soweto from the air

Thomas Hoeffgen

Afrique football Hoeffgen Soccer

Un mot sur l'oeuvre

( REF : THOE005)
This image comes from «African Arenas », a major photography project produced over a ten-year period by Thomas Hoeffgen. The project tells the story of a continent through its football pitches.
The work has appeared in print many times and was published in 2010 in Germany by the publisher Hatje Cantz. It was awarded a prestigious International Photograpy Award in 2011.

Le témoignage de Thomas Hoeffgen

« I caught the football bug in 1999 when I went to Africa to do a photography feature on the Nigerian player, Jonathan Akpoborie. At the time he was playing for VfB Stuttgart and I was working for the German edition of Playboy. At the last minute he couldn’t make it. I was already in Nigeria and ended up alone in Lagos, his home town.
He felt guilty, so to help me he got one of his oldest friends, who knew his life story, to drive me to all the places he had played football at as a kid and teenager. Not wanting to go home empty-handed, I followed in his footsteps and went to all the football pitches in Lagos that had seen him grow up.
That’s how it all started. I loved the mix of real stadiums and makeshift pitches. For ten years, each time I went to Africa, I carried on with the project and the story grew.
The image was taken during a trip to South Africa in 2009, a year before the country hosted the World Cup. Thomas had rented a helicopter that day to photograph the Soccer City stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg from the air. It is the country’s largest stadium and was due to host the final of the World Cup. It was Sunday afternoon and people were playing on all the local playing fields. Before he got to the big stadium, he flew over lots of amateur matches being played on makeshift pitches.

Le choix de Jean-Denis

My initial reaction was one of surprise. At first glance, I didn’t see everything in the image, or understand everything. After that I realised the photo was telling the tale of Africa and its football. The earth ranging from yellow to ochre, the aridity, the simple terraces. Some images appeal to everyone, and this is one of them. Its simple beauty, its inspiration. Unbeatable.