Winners of Sports – Stories | World Press Photo 2020
A photojournalistic photograph’s intent is to inform and educate, and eventually, fuel the commencement of necessary reparations. Since 1955, the World Press Photo Awards has been an instrumental force in this arena, by bringing harrowing stories of terror, as well as those of hope and resilience. These stories scream vociferously of the world’s apathy against its citizens, that we need to do better. The foundation has announced the winners of the contest on its online channels on the 16th of April. Here is a look at the photographs from the 63rd edition of the awards.
First prize: Wally Skalij, United States, Los Angeles Times
Rise from the Ashes: Following a wildfire that devastated their town, members of the Paradise Bobcats from the small rural community of Paradise, California, United States, returned to their football field to revive the team and embark on a new season. The November 2018 Camp Fire was the most destructive wildfire in Californian history. Paradise was almost completely burnt to the ground, and 90% of its population were dispersed to towns and cities across the US, but the fire stopped at the edge of Paradise High School’s football field, sparing it and the surrounding sports buildings. Nearly everyone on the team lost their home, but players began returning when coach Rick Prinz started practices, some commuting for up to 90 minutes to get there. They saw reviving the team as a part of rebuilding the community. The Bobcats went on to have a successful season, playing undefeated until losing the final for the championship at the end of the year.
Second prize: Olivier Papegnies, Belgium
The Gouandé Gazelles: The Gazelles de Gouandé from Gouandé village in northern Benin is one of 16 football teams set up across the country with the aim of giving young women more control over their futures through sport. The project, established by the Plan International organization, aims to empower women by promoting self-confidence, widening educational opportunities, and through advocacy against early marriage. Following the 2019 Women’s World Cup, there was an international surge of interest in women’s football, and projects like the one in Benin can be seen as part of a wider view of the power of sport to unify and spread social awareness. In January 2019, Benin hosted a delegation from FIFA, football’s international governing body, aimed at supporting a new sports strategy in schools, and Beninese president Patrice Talon announced plans for four new football schools, including one for women.
Third prize: Kim Kyung-Hoon, South Korea, Reuters
Japan’s Veteran Rugby Players: Tokyo’s Fuwaku Rugby Club, founded in 1948, is one of around 150 Japanese clubs that stage competitive, full-contact matches for players over the age of 40. Japan is the country with the largest aging population in the world, according to a United Nations report, with 28% of its population aged 65 or more. Seniors are particularly vulnerable to loneliness, with 15% of elderly men who live alone having fewer than one conversation in two weeks, according to a report in The Japan Times. Rugby not only keeps the players active, but offers a ready-made social life. The 2019 Rugby World Cup, held in Japan from September to November, boosted awareness and enthusiasm for the sport, with match attendance breaking previous World Cup records.
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