Chelsea FC, the Chelsea Foundation and VERSUS are thrilled to announce the two winners of the Blue Creator Fund – Xaymaca Awoyungbo and Becky Gordon.
Xaymaca and Becky were among thousands of applicants for the newly launched fund, which promised up to £15,000 in funding for two successful applicants to create a project about Chelsea and the community. Applications were open to anyone aged 18-30 from under-represented backgrounds, underlining both Chelsea and VERSUS’s commitment to diversifying football on and off the pitch.
Where Becky looks to create a capsule collection of Chelsea signet rings to award key champions in the Chelsea community, Xaymaca wants to tell the story of Chelsea’s relationship with race through the medium of film. We sat down with them both to talk through their projects and why they believe the Blue Creator Fund (BCF) is important…
Why did you apply for the BCF - what drew you to it?
Becky: I was looking for inspiration for a new project when I saw the Blue Creator Fund introduced on Chelsea’s social media. I was immediately excited by the chance to give back something to the Chelsea community. I have always wanted to be more involved with my club and sharing something I’ve created feels like the perfect way to do it.
Xaymaca: I applied for the fund because I’m a Chelsea fan first and foremost. The fund presented me with an opportunity to tell my story and help shape the way the club is viewed. I was also keen to enter the creative industry, after creating a number of documentaries at university. What better to start my career than by directing a documentary about the club I support?
Why is the BCF important for the football and creative sectors? Why is it important that VERSUS are partnering with Chelsea for this?
Becky: There’s so much creativity behind each matchday experience; from artists for social media graphics, to people writing club songs. VERSUS is about this changing culture of football, a football where players are becoming content creators, where fashion designers collaborate with clubs. The BCF acknowledges the potential for culture change in football and gives an opportunity to nurture a new generation of creatives with a passion for the game.
Xaymaca: The BCF is important for the football and creative sectors because increasingly we’re seeing the two sectors merge. From fashion houses creating their own football kits to footballers creating their own music, we’re seeing how football, fashion and music are powerful cultural connectors. The beauty of the BCF is that it puts the power in the fans’ hands. We get to have our say because without us nothing moves.
For me, it’s important that VERSUS is partnering with Chelsea because VERSUS is all about connecting football with wider culture. It’s an organisation that’s not afraid to touch on sensitive topics like racism and LGBTQ+ rights while also shining a light on football’s power as a community builder. After seeing how VERSUS has captured people’s imaginations through its storytelling for the current Women’s World Cup and the last men’s World Cup, I’m excited to work with the brand. Hopefully I can feature in one of those legendary captions.
What does the BCF mean to you?
Becky: A combination of a lack of representation in jewellery and lack of creative opportunities as a whole led to a lot of imposter syndrome, in calling myself a designer for ‘just’ doing crafts sat on my bedroom floor. The application process alone, especially preparing my proposal for the interview, made me realise I have the right to work creatively. To be selected gives me the confidence that I am meant to be here and can finally see myself turning my creative interests into a career.
Xaymaca: The BCF represents creativity, challenge and Chelsea. I’ve been given a lot of creative control to create a documentary about Chelsea’s Black fans and Chelsea’s history with race. Collaborating with the ambassadors and my friends has only elevated the project further as I’m learning from everyone. Yet it’s still a challenge because of the subject matter I’m dealing with. How do I tell my story in an engaging way? How do I handle a project of this size? But this challenge has been a blessing because I’m learning more about Chelsea’s history and how it ties into the history of Britain. I’m also experiencing first-hand what Chelsea is doing to empower its fans and how fans can help the club in turn.
What has been the most exciting part of winning the fund for you so far? What are you looking forward to the most?
Becky: Meeting the ambassadors has been really interesting, seeing the different backgrounds and interests that have brought them to their respective industries. I’m looking forward to getting to work with and learn from them, and with their help see my project build up from my initial proposal to a reality.
Xaymaca: The most exciting part of the fund so far has been visiting Stamford Bridge so regularly for meetings. I remember sitting in one of the stadium’s suites for my interview and reflecting on how surreal the opportunity was as I looked out onto the pitch. Suddenly, everything felt real and I knew it was something I had to experience again. So when I stepped on the touchline for the photoshoot, after winning the fund, I couldn’t stop smiling. I didn’t make it as a footballer but I still made it in football. In the words of ODUMODUBLVCK: “I’m on the turf.” In that same vein, I’m looking forward to meeting Chelsea players past and present. I hope to connect with them on a personal level so I can hear their stories.
What do you think the impact of the BCF will be in the future?
Becky: I hope the continuation of the BCF inspires more people to take up space in a creative industry, so that people from all backgrounds can either feel inspired to apply or to take on their own projects. I’d like young and aspiring creatives to be able to see themselves in Xaymaca, myself, and future BCF recipients across industries which currently lack diversity.
Xaymaca: I think the BCF will change the way that people view Chelsea as a football club. While it will still primarily be associated with success on the pitch, culture will start to play a bigger role. It will embolden the community aspect that’s so important to football but can sometimes get lost with the commercialisation of the sport.
Outside of Chelsea, I think the BCF will encourage more football clubs to reflect on how they engage with their fans. More clubs will work with fans to bring the fans’ stories to the fore. Then outside of football, I think the fund will encourage people to reflect on football’s role in society. It’s something that brings people together and can be the lens through which we view so many other stories.
Becky, you’ll also be creating a zine alongside your jewellery collection - can you tell us more about this idea?
Becky: My zine will highlight a range of community members, discussing their impact on the matchday and wider Chelsea experience. I want to explore what the community means to them and get an understanding of why they do what they do. My aim is to give key members the recognition they deserve and potentially inspire others to join in and contribute to our club.