Shawn Forde is a student in the School of Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia. He previously completed a Master’s of Arts and a Bachelor’s of Human Kinetics from the School of Kinesiology, as well as Bachelor’s in Education and a Certificate in International Development, all at UBC. Before beginning his graduate studies, Shawn worked as a physical education instructor in China and for a sports-based HIV/AIDS education initiative in Lesotho.

For his PhD he is interested in exploring the ways that various groups are mobilizing sport to achieve social change in international development settings.


“These images are based on an ethnographic study that began with an amateur football club in South Africa. The intention of my research was to examine the role that football clubs played within the social and political life of the community. However, as I spent time in football spaces, and listened to stories of the past, I was drawn, and drew myself into, the history of football, politics, and community life in a particular township. Initially, for the purposes of my fieldnotes, I completed sketches, drawings, and comic art, but I devoted a significant amount of time to gesture drawings.

While in football spaces, I found myself completing sketches or gesture drawings of players. Gesture drawing can be an inherently contradictory practice. Through lines on paper I would try to capture a movement. The drawings were often failed attempts to fix fleeting moments to paper. Yet, at their best, gesture drawings are ephemeral; they are suggestive and evocative. Even though they are meant to capture a moment they are temporally ambivalent. I am an amateur and my drawings are far from evocative, but I begin to see the gestures as ghosts or traces, and within them I catch glimpses of joy and happiness. The drawings reflect expressions of nostalgia and utopia that also permeated people’s stories of football during apartheid that I tried to represent through comic art.”