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Ads We Like: Nike Football shows how sport can bring a community together and give kids hope

Nike’s ‘From the Grounds Up’ short tells the moving story of Hackney Wick FC founder, Bobby Kasanga, and his rise from prison to community hero.

Kasanga founded Hackney Wick FC in 2015 as a way of tackling gang violence through football. As a child, he had represented his county at football - but after finding himself involved in a gang he spent eight years in prison.

He founded the football club four years ago, upon his release, with a mission to inspire the young people on his childhood estate to channel their energy into the sport.

The four-minute film stars Kasanga, as well as the club’s players and fans, and depicts the positive impact Hackney Wick FC has had on the local community.

Speaking on the development of the ad, director Jess Kohl said: “The process from start to finish took a good few months. As it’s a very sensitive story, we wanted to give it the time it needed to develop. We met with Bobby as an initial part of the process, as I listened to him speak, I thought about how to communicate his story in an original and engaging way.

“He told us about the pep talks he gives his teams before games, and I asked him to talk to us as if we were his team. As soon as he started I knew this was how I wanted to approach the campaign - seeing him talking to the next generation felt like an emotive way to communicate his story, and allowed us to show the different personalities involved in Hackney Wick FC through the simple set up of a pep talk.”

Said Kasanga, who has seen the club grow from one men’s team to nearly two dozen teams for men, women and youth in less than five years: “I wanted to keep the kids off the streets, keep them occupied and give them a path."

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