1948 has a new Sports Club and Tarik Fontenelle is at the helm. He explains more about St. Leonard's FC.
What’s your earliest football-related memory?
I think my very first memory has to be playing football for a local team when I was about 5, I remember playing as a striker as I was so small and skinny at the time. Playing on Saturdays at the local playing fields in Leyton has to be one of my very first ever memories bar none. Football was always intrinsic to how I grew up. I remember my dad making me save up gold stars for months so I could see Ian Wright play for West Ham against Leyton Orient in a pre-season friendly when I was no older than 7 – I don’t think he so much as had a glimpse at goal but he was such a hero to me at the time it didn’t matter. That excitement was what it was all about when I was a kid. As was the disappointment.
Why do you think football is such an important part of British sporting culture?
Football is tied strongly to our national identity – to the notion of ‘Britishness’ itself. It is an integral part of the culture of Britain, something that is reflected in the support, passion and love for the game seen in this country. It’s why grounds are packed with passionate fans up and down the country on Saturday afternoons, no matter the league or the level. That’s what makes this country special in regards to football: we really love the game itself and we don’t mind making it an important part of our everyday life. Football is deeply engrained within British culture; it is a force that brings together people from all walks of life and offers opportunity for real self-expression.
Why is football important to you personally?
I think it’s the feeling I get when I play football. It’s about energy and commitment; it’s about the challenge, the battle and the intricate dynamics of playing. There must be constant awareness of the small movements and positional shifts that take place in the game – it’s a text you have to learn to read. Alongside this there are the galloping runs and crunching tackles that always raise blood levels and bring out the best in your game. When I play football I’m always reminded that it can be interpreted as an art form as well as a sport and it’s at these moments where I feel most connected to the beautiful game. Football is such a huge part of my life on every level really – it defines my mood and my outlook at times in an almost unhealthy manner.
What is St. Leonard’s all about?
St. Leonard’s FC is inspired by competition, creation and collaboration, whilst driven by an overarching collective love for football. Aiming to bring together individuals from a range of creative backgrounds, the foundations of the club is the local creative community and borrows from the heritage of its environment.
The club is actually named after the medieval parish of the Shoreditch area and aims to stay true to its East London roots. Through the medium of football, the club aims to bridge the gap between this country’s unique sporting culture and the culture of the arts, whilst following a keen ethos of self-improvement, progression and innovation.
It is not about a football club made up of creative people, but about people coming together through football to do something creative. Bringing together individuals from the fashion, music, art, photography, film and design communities, the club hopes to provoke a new clash of cultural relationships within the sport itself. Meeting once a week in Haggerston Park, the team’s focus is both on improving technique and skill through competition and training, whilst forging a constructive creative environment away from the pitch too.
Why is St. Leonard’s different from the rest?
This football club aims to be wholly innovative in its approach to sporting culture. This is at the very core of what this collective is attempting to do: to build a solid collective of aspirational creative individuals and a brand synonymous with locality, the arts and cutting edge.
St. Leonard’s FC is an attempt to build a collective that is more than just a football club; a collective that uses the club as a creative platform and outlet, with a shared passion for innovation within sport itself. This is what defines the very culture of this club and its ethos.
What’s the St Leonard’s motto and why?
More Light; More Power. It was adopted from the coat of arms for the old borough of Shoreditch and links succinctly into two of the key concepts within the club itself: locality and innovation.
It also immediately reminded me of the averb ‘knowledge is power’ as the concept of illumination, of light, is key to how we build understanding and insight. By redefining the old borough’s motto, it is both a nod to the heritage of the local area and a testiment to the future direction the club will be travelling in.
More Light; More Power.
St. Leonard’s FC is inspired by competition, creation and collaboration.
It is not about a football club made up of creative people, but about people coming together through football to do something creative.