I Can Play for Any Team
text by Knutte Wester
You long to be free, he says, as he stands in the mud with a football under his arm. It is autumn break from school and I am at a secret place, where undocumented refugees live, it’s not that far from here.
In 2002 to 2003 I had my studio at a refugee camp. A boy I got to know there used to shine like the sun, though he really did not have so much to shine for. He had grown up in refugee centers around Europe and over again rooted, learned a new language and been uprooted, to settle down in another country and learned another language. To be uprooted again. The child we can call “S”, who lives in hiding in the secret place, tells me that Sweden is his fourth home country, he believes. Though officially he does not exist. He tells me he wants be a professional soccer player.
In my studio I piece a figure together using parts that I have collected through the years. Small patches from national team jerseys from near and far, documentary casts of people from different locations. The eyes are from a boy named Noa and the smile belongs to a refugee from Iraq. The scar on the forehead is my own, from when I as a child stuffed my head in a bucket of broken glass which cut my face over the forehead and down right between the eyes, as if I had been cut apart with a shard of glass. They sewed 22 stitches and I healed. I don’t know if the people I got to know at the refugee center will heal. But I hope so.
Tomorrow some other child will stand on the sidelines of another soccer field. And yet another one behind another limit, hoping to be involved, at some other border that cannot be crossed.