The Last Stand is a street football tournament that unites communities and breaks down social barriers. But it’s more than that now; it’s a platform that’s become a catalyst for change. It’s created opportunities for boys who have gone on to be models, presenters and started their own productions and shows.
I started The Last Stand to show kids that anything that comes into our minds can become our reality, to show what can be achieved if we all came together.
It launched in November 2016 in Shepherd’s Bush – and in a short space of time we have done four major tournaments, including a national one in Birmingham in April 2018. It’s just gone bigger; the more it grows, the more people want to get involved. In the beginning, we had about 150 people in the crowd. At the second, roughly 300. Then about 450 people. And in Birmingham, we had around 600 or more. It’s something that I never anticipated.
BBC Sport covered us and I’ve had messages from all over the world. Since Birmingham the response we had was crazy – we’ve had a lot of opportunities and response from TV companies. We’re going on a tour starting in the spring of six cities: Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Cardiff and London.
My whole focus is on the tour, still telling stories but putting them on a bigger platform. We want to do a European tour as well, and other sports such as basketball.
The reason this resonates with a lot of people is they realise these are kids like us, following their dreams. This has come out of nothing – it’s not sponsored and it’s not a big brand doing it. It’s just people coming together and making stuff happen. We put the kids up first, and the brand is second.
Young people, you can’t speak at them. If you want to create social change, it has to be through art. They just want to be part of something. The Last Stand not only gives them hope, it lifts the lid of imagination and makes them believe they can achieve more.
There are a lot of people within our ad industry who don’t realise how much influence and power they have to create change. This industry gets your mind stuck where you don’t feel you can achieve more than a commercial. But if these guys can use their skills, they can have a lot of social good. Now is the time to create that goodness.
Brexit’s coming, and I feel there’s going to be a rise of extremism from both sides of the spectrum. We need unity to survive but also thrive in this country. I want to be a force for good. Football is just an excuse to bring people together. What’s happened before and after is the biggest part.
Gundeep Anand is founder of The Last Stand and a freelance director/creative