Miles from the main roads, in rural Africa, soccer balls bounce unevenly. Playing fields are arid, lush, weedy, sandy — any flattish space will do. Goalposts might be made of gathered mahogany or driftwood. Some feet are bare, others shod in fraying sneakers, boots, rubber sandals. Yet children kick and chase handmade, lopsided balls with skill and abandon, competing for pride and joy — for the sheer pleasure of playing.

Has the “beautiful game” ever been lovelier?

- Jeremy Berlin & Jessica Hilltout

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