“As adults, we have a responsibility to not let kids down, to continue to be the teachers, the mentors... whatever it is that gives the inspiration, that’s our responsibility.”
- Lebron James
As we continue to inspire and feed the minds of the next generation of sports stars on the court, with our dedication and respect for the game, we also strive to influence young minds and learn from others off the court.
Over the past year, we have had the esteemed pleasure of connecting with the French-based football team Red Star Football Club. Over this time, we have worked tirelessly to create a collaborative platform of shared ideals. An amphitheatre where young athletes can learn from our London culture and where we can learn from their creative hub.
On Friday, 28th October 2022, the London Lions were the proud hosts of Red Star F.C’s Youth Academy and Red Star LAB during the final leg of their trip to London.
Four girls and eight boys from Red Star F.C. Academy’s Under 15 squads, who were handpicked by their coaching staff, made the trip over to London, from their Parisian suburb Saint-Ouen, along with nine supervisors. The accompanying adults included Red Star LAB team members, U15 coaches, Red Star F.C Creative Manager, and former Manchester United and West Ham star David Bellion.
Red Star LAB, the cultural and artistic wing of Red Star Football Club, created in 2008 by club president and film director Patrice Haddad, allows its youth players to find and explore their creative passions through workshops and projects.
“Red Star LAB is one of the most important departments at the club. We try to give the kids the possibility to [experience] different cultural and artistic [projects that are] linked to football, to [help] open their minds”.
- Alexis Etame (Project Manager, Red star LAB)
Initially cancelled due to the COVID outbreak, Red Star’s trip to London is the continuation of the club’s “English Lab.” Their week-long stay in the U.K.’s capital city involved visits to several of London’s well-known monuments, content creation with Analog Sport, training sessions and a visit to our headquarters for a creative workshop with Hard in the Paint founder and renowned creative Jermaine Bates.
“It’s always important to work and talk with the younger generation whenever possible; You never know who[m] you can help or inspire.”
- Jermaine Bates
As part of the workshop, the Red Star F.C. Academy players were tasked with creating their version of our well-known London Lions jersey. All twelve players were each given a white Lions home top to paint on, with green and red paint – Red Star F.C.’s famed colours, paint brushes and hair dryers to help dry the paint.
In the early stages, the young would-be designers were guided by Jermaine Bates, whom himself rose to fame creating custom football shirts for Premier League football players. However, it didn’t take long for the confident young creatives to take the reins of their creations.
“A very confident bunch of young people who didn’t hold back creatively at all when it came to painting! Love that. They went for it, and all seemed to enjoy themselves.”
- Jermaine Bates
No custom jersey design was the same as the next. Each player incorporated individual, well thought and, at times, spontaneous painting techniques and styles. Some decided to incorporate paint-slattering techniques, whereas others dabbed paint onto the surface of their jerseys using their stiff bristle brushes.
Some drew images onto their jerseys, and some painted letters, numbers and even full words onto the white home tops. Several players used various elements of the jersey to help expound their designs.
Although no jersey was the same, most of the custom designs had one common element, the number “93” or “9-3,” as it was proudly referred to by the players and the Red Star staff. The number is the first part of Saint-Ouen’s area code, a suburb of Paris where the club is based and where most of their youth players are from.
With such unique and genuine creative energy flowing around the workshop, it would be easy to lose sight of the bigger purpose of the seminar and Red Star’s week-long trip as a whole. But not Creative Manager David Bellion.
“We’re trying to get our [young players] to open their eyes. One of our sayings is, ‘Work the Body, Feed the Mind. Feeding the mind is what they’re doing right now. ’The more the mind is creative, the better you are at football. It's an additional bonus. The more you become creative, the more you become cultivated.”
The former pro, which admittedly comes from a similar background as some of the academy players in attendance (but without much of the resources currently available), felt these workshops were essential to show the young players that there is more to life than football.
“Football is very important. [We tell our players to] try your best. But your life [should] not be defined by football. Maybe one of [our players] will be the Marketing person at the London Lions [in the future]. Maybe one will be the next Communications Director at Red Star. One might be the Chairperson.”
As the workshop drew to a close, the young players presented their custom jerseys, each giving their reasons behind their designs. Many of their inspirations ranged from “9-3,” I.e., Saint-Ouen, the area several of the players grew up in, to the club logo, the history of Red Star, attempting to seamlessly merge traditional Red Star designs with London Lions,’ to their nicknames and much more.
“It was nice to hear a little about where they and their inspirations came from. There were a few designs today that really stood out. I loved how quite a few of them felt the need to make reference to their distinct “93”, and there were some really cool ways that they incorporated Red star-inspired designs with the London Lions jerseys.”
- Jermaine Bates
The workshop was a phenomenal learning tool for the London Lions and Red Star. Expect to see more creative collaborations going forward. We want to thank Pierre-Antoine Rolland, Malika Germain, Alexis Etame, Christelle Quillévéré, Alexis Dumond, Paul Ducassou, Paul Betis, Héloïse Hyacinte and the 12 talented, hardworking, humble and gracious academy players that graced our headquarters.