Balazs Gardi has focused his series Can I Play? on the healing and uniting power of soccer in the local immigrant community in his hometown of Oakland, California. He focuses particularly on a group of young people who have moved to the States from places of unrest across the world, and explores how the sport has helped them find an identity in their circumstances.
"Not long after I moved to Oakland, California, it was named the most diverse city in the United States. As Americans were becoming more and more polarized in their attitudes towards immigrants I was looking out for ways to meet them. Soccer Without Borders started to work with immigrant and refugee youth over a decade ago and I feel very fortunate to be able to photograph their extraordinary effort to build a lasting community and help these kids navigate their newly found home. The Sony Grant has not only helped me to continue working with this vibrant community but also provides the much needed platform for the work to be seen around the world," Gardi says
Balazs Gardi (b. 1975, Hungary) is a Hungarian-born photographer who spent the early years of his career traveling the globe before finding a home base in the US. After his interest in photography was ignited in his late teens, Balazs worked extensively as a news photographer, refining his innate talent while documenting fast-paced events in areas from politics to sports. To pursue his growing interest in humanity’s complex relationship with itself and with nature, Balazs devoted over a decade to capturing the landscape of the war in Afghanistan, as well as the far-reaching consequences of the global water crisis. His dispatches from the Afghan frontline earned him the Bayeux-Calvados Award for War Correspondents, while his stories from the “water front” also received numerous honors, such as the Global Vision Award from Pictures of the Year International.