The power of sport to unite us is unwavering.

Last Thursday night, The Hive Stadium hosted the international friendly Nigeria against Senegal. With stars including Alex Iwobi, Idrissa Gueye, Kelechi Iheanacho, Cheikhou Kouyaté and most notably, Sadio Mané taking to the pitch, this was not the calibre of player with which the Barnet home ground was familiar.


With an intimate crowd of just 2,013, many of the players would not themselves have been used to such a low key affair. More interesting than the football (a lacklustre 1-1 was the final score) however, was the demographic of the crowd.

Brady Maccabi under-16's, currently in the fourth and second tiers of the Watford Friendly League, train weekly on the astroturf metres from the stadium. Combined with a large Jewish population in the Edgware and Barnet area in which The Hive is located, the Jewish contingent of football fans was very well represented. The only other group who matched our numbers was those of African heritage, many of whom had come in support of their respective teams.

My friends and I didn't go to support any particular side. The Nigerian lady in front of us jokingly criticised our celebrations after Senegal took the lead through a bundled finish: “You were supporting Nigeria a few minutes ago!” It didn't matter who we were supporting, football is football. Fans can lament their losses and claim they are 'done’ with football as much as they like - they're lying. Football is not just a hobby to enjoy, it is a passion that won't be suppressed.

Much is made of the social divide between people of different ethnicities, but looking around me in the stands, I had faith in humanity. It didn't matter about race, age, colour or team allegiance; we were all united by our love of football.

At the final whistle, the stewards attempted to prevent a pitch invasion. Their attempts were, predictably, in vain. They could not prevent the swarming around Iwobi, Mané and the other Premier League footballers. It didn’t matter how badly Iwobi performed - he still inspires people of all backgrounds to come together in their admiration for him as a footballer.

Many of the players would have travelled hundreds of miles to play. We travelled 50 yards. On the same night, 3,000 miles away, Syria scored a last-minute penalty to keep their World Cup hopes alive. They may be moving from stadium to stadium as their country becomes increasingly dangerous, but they can still celebrate a scrappy victory on an ordinary Thursday night.

In a world so divided, with a future becoming more uncertain every day, there is still one thing that I have full faith in: football. For all its faults, the power of sport to unite us is unwavering.

Joshua Korber Hoffman is a 16-year-old football fanatic and Arsenal supporter. He writes a football blog called The Young Gun, in which his love for writing and the beautiful game intersect

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