One day when talking to my dean about my passion for football and how there was no one at my university who understood my passion, her eyes widened and a smile grew. She said that a man named Sid Ferreira is “crazy about football”. When I heard the terms, “crazy” and “football”, I knew we had to meet.
Talking to Sid back in December of 2019, we chatted about his passion for Manchester United, our general disgust over the abuse of power, racism and sexism in football and why the future of football is in Africa.
Wandering eyes, this is Sid’s story…
Do you want to tell me why you like Manchester United?
WHY I LIKE MANCHESTER UNITED? Well, it’s interesting. I always heard about Bobby Charlton and all this other stuff. My father grew up talking about Manchester United so I was like, “Okay. Manchester United is cool...”. Then I heard about Chelsea, Tottenham, Everton and I heard about all of the other ones but Manchester United always stayed in the back of my mind as a place because Bobby Charlton was there, Ferguson and all of these other people. It solidified when Cristiano Ronaldo went there. I had been following him since he was a teenager, then he played for Sporting Clube de Portugal which was my club in Portugal. In Portugal he's scoring all of these goals and then he goes to Manchester United - that solidified it for me. I was like, “Okay. That’s my team.”
Then you have Sir Ferguson* who's one of my favorite coaches. Then you have Ronaldo. Then you have Nani, who was Cape Verdean who came in with Ronaldo. Then you had Wayne Rooney. Those were the players I followed and since then, Manchester United has been “it”.
What does football mean to you?
I like to joke that, “football means life to me”, but of course it’s a joke because life is more than football. For me, football shows what life is supposed to be about. It’s about winning. It’s about losing. It’s about dying. It’s about teamwork. It’s about relationships. It’s about being a leader but also being able to take orders from your coach or your captain. It’s about being a nice person. It’s about making enough money to support your family and hopefully your community.
Maybe even making too much money…
Or making too much money and then what do you do with it, right? [laughs] But it’s also accessible. That’s the one thing I love because growing up, I remember putting a bunch of socks together in a “ball” and going to play soccer. It’s so accessible that anybody that has any skill by luck, who gets noticed, can make it.
It’s one of the few places, and when you look at it, especially for us folks of color, it’s a place where we can truly make it. When you are the best, people put you on a pedestal to a certain extent. While you are the best, your race doesn’t matter, right? Now, once you aren’t the best, your race matters. Or if you are playing against an opponent, your race matters.
Football, in my experience in the United States and around the world, has given women a lot more access.
For women, I think it has been a sport that has really showcased a lot of talents that men didn’t think that they had and still have today! Men were like, “women aren’t capable of playing football” and they’ve been watching a bunch of women play football, and they’re like, “wait, they’re actually better than the men”. So far, I think it's been able to bridge that gender gap. Now, do we need to bridge that pay gap? Absolutely.
Now because of the success of the United States, Brazil, Nigeria, Australia, China and Canada, a lot of places that would otherwise not give women opportunities are now like, “wait, we need a women’s team”. They are seeing their success. They are like, “hey, these women are better than a lot of the men's teams we have out here”. So I think it’s going to open up a lot of doors for other groups that are not being represented.
When I say, “The future of football is…”, how would you finish that sentence?
I seriously think the future of football is in Africa. Of course there are great European players and amazing South American players. I think it’s because of access. Most people don’t know that up until 1982 or 1986, we’ve only had two teams from the continent of Africa ( play in the men’s World Cup). We only had three to four teams from South America. Since they expanded to 32 teams and they are looking to expand it to more teams, people have seen more of not only South Americans and Asians but now Africans.
15 to 20 years ago, Mourinho said that the future of football was in Africa. I truly believe that. You know, if you look at most of the teams from around the world, they have African representation. It’s not that they are trying to diversify. A lot of these teams, if it was about diversity, let me tell you, they wouldn’t be there. It’s because they are awesome and great.
People really need to wake up and say, “okay, how are we going to develop these young men and women who are from Africa?”. Some of the best players in the world are of African descent including some people in Latin America, who are Afro-Latinos as we all know.
So that’s where the future is!
So I want to ask you about your Pogba statue…
Yes! That’s my favorite player right now at Man U! Hopefully he won’t leave!!
*When Ronaldo was at Man Utd.
Please note that these photos were taken on 35mm. Just like life, when film is developed, sometimes they don't turn out as expected.