The Last Stand is a funny project. But at its heart is a great idea… healing London’s divisions.
The street football tournament began as a response to 2016’s divisive Brexit vote. Welcoming teams from across London, its purpose is to unite communities and break down social, cultural and religious barriers through the power of sport – and chicken. It’s simple, winners get Nando’s, losers get Chicken Cottage: 6 Teams, 6 LDN Boroughs, 1 Prize. (Sure there’s a ‘Fowl!’ gag in here somewhere.)
The Last Stand serves as a positive response to London’s ongoing ‘postcode wars’ – a phrase coined to sum up inter-estate rivalry that started in east London back in the early 2000s and which is part of the complex picture that has seen 11 young men murdered on the streets of the UK capital this year alone.
Six local teams of the best ballers from all over London – including Hidden Talent from Hackney, Aqua Flow from London Bridge and F4TAL from Mitchum – take part in the knockout football, with the winner getting an uberX private ride to Nando’s, and the losers heading for the somewhat less prestigious Chicken Cottage, sharing a car with strangers in an uberPOOL.
The comedy inherent in the prizes, says founder Gundeep Anand, is a good way to raise the stakes without making them too high. “Competing for chicken diffuses things nicely, whereas money could make it too hectic. It’s relatable too, as these boys love their chicken!”
“I had to find a way of getting involved,” says Olu Maintain, a player from East London’s Hidden Talent. “It looked sick and you don’t see these things in the ends (my neighbourhood). You see these things on Sky Sports, or Adidas and Nike adverts”. The Last Stand’s authenticity has been noted by footballing royalty Ashley Cole and by Didier Drogba who Anand met at a Nike tournament.
To complete the picture, Anand has partnered with award-winning production company Rattling Stick, who have given him free office space and production advice, as well as with global post-production house The Mill who have donated an editor to support with all Last Stand content. Six emerging new directors have followed the teams, documenting their preparation for the event, and upcoming artists have been given the chance to record tracks in a studio for use in both team promo and music videos.
“Kids are being educated to fail,” says Anand, who runs courses and workshops at his local college in Slough, west of London, and works freelance as a videographer. “The Last Stand uses sport to unite people and break down barriers that can often cause conflict or divisiveness amongst communities.”
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Gundeep Anand, Founding filmmaker
United Kingdom (London)