A guide to the New East

Home and away: pitchside with the local football teams fuelling Russia’s World Cup dreams

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With the World Cup in Brazil almost upon us, it seems timely to focus on a photography project that deftly captures the global appeal and local resonance of the beautiful game. Sergey Novikov's photo series Grassroots comes from his two passions: football and the Russian provincial landscape. The Moscow photographer's aim is to capture amateur teams on their home grounds, illustrating how provincial sports teams form a network of activity across the country. fuelling culture and national identity. "The aim of the Grassroots project is to show the place of the stadium in the urban infrastructure, to analyse its impact on the local community," he says. Over the course of the project Novikov has also come to recognise how local stadiums across Russia reflect local identity. "In Tver region stadiums are often surrounded by concrete blocks. In Pryazha in Karelia stadiums have a wooden stockade. Football pitches in the Murmansk region don't have grass cover due to their location in a polar region." Novikov has already photographed over 30 stadiums in 30 regions and plans to carry on his quest at least till 2018, when Russia hosts the World Cup for the first time.

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