Football is not just played under the bright lights of the biggest pitches in Europe. It's played anywhere and everywhere, and photographer Jeremie Roturier is on a mission to highlight some of the most unique locations in the world where football pitches exist in all forms.

Titled 'Son of a Pitch', the first stop took in the beautiful backdrop of the Mediterranean island of Corsica and we caught up with Jeremie to discuss his new project, its aims and how he went about putting it all together.


Jeremy, can you introduce us to this project, what was your objective?

This photo series is a love letter to football in its simplest form. The football you don't see on TV. The beautiful game that can be played anywhere, on any kind of pitch. Over the last few months, I have planned a couple of trips to Corsica, a place where football truly matters to the locals. I knew that with the stunning landscapes of the island, I could find really picturesque football pitches, stuck between the Mediterranean sea and the mountains. I wanted to show that football is everywhere, and that's not only about the Champions League's bright lights and all the hype around professional football. At the end of the day, you just need a ball, goal posts and some friends to have the best time on a pitch.

This project is beautifully unique, where did the idea come from?

I have recently created a platform, Football Campagne to gather stories about football that aren't told by the main media. As a core part of it, I have started the project Son of a pitch, to explore and showcase long lost, stunning football pitches from around the world through a series of photographs. Forget about sold out modern stadiums, forget about insanely talented players, this is an invitation for a ride to the origins of the game. 


Tell us about the journey you went on, where did you explore and what stands out in the memory from the experience?

For this series, I've focused on the North West of Corsica: Balagne area. Taking the roads from Bastia to the cities of Ile-Rousse and Calvi, I put all my attention into identifying the grounds in the small villages hidden in the mountains. I have done quite a bit of research on Google Maps beforehand, in order to spot all the pitches in the proximity of different villages. I spent a great deal of time in the car, driving along narrow and winding roads to find these gems.

It wasn't always successful, like when I've spent two days trying to find the stadium at Belgodere until I realised it didn't exist anymore and it had been replaced by a car scrapyard, but it's a great way to explore an area. I have seen so many incredible landscapes, discovered so many villages, and met so many locals thanks to this project, it's been a truly unique adventure. And when you find an abandoned football ground, like the one in Calacuccia for instance, with cows in the middle of the pitch, it's like finding an Easter egg when you're a kid.

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It shows, quite poetically, how football is everywhere. Has this given you a taste to want to go and explore more places like this?

Through the project Son of a pitch, I have been to places like Iceland, Uzbekistan, the French Alps, Canadian Rockies or Albania. I definitely want to expand this list and the beauty of it is that in any country I will visit, I know I will be able to find unique pitches. I really want to discover the rest of Corsica to capture stadiums across the whole island, but this project can really take me anywhere in the world.

What was the best pitch you saw and what made it special for you?

Speleoncato's stadium is really like nothing else. I was drinking Limoncello with some friends at the bar of the village, and they told me that there used to be a decent football team back in the days. They mentioned the pitch was now abandoned so I had to go check this out. Driving down the road from the village, I was desperately looking for it but couldn't find it. The drinks I had before probably didn't help, but I actually realised you couldn't see it from the road.

I only noticed an old sign pointing out to a path in the forest. Then I walked for five minutes on the trail to finally find the hidden gem. Lost amongst the trees, with rusted goal posts and wild plants in the middle of the field. The theatre of dreams. Just thinking about that time when a proper team used to play there, in the middle of nowhere, that was quite something.


Did you meet any people along the way as you were visiting these pitches?

Even though I planned my trip on Google Maps beforehand, it was really important for me to meet the locals and to understand their relation to football. I heard so many incredible stories spending time chatting with people at the bar! They told me about the best places to check, famous local players... That's what's beautiful about Corsica, people are so passionate. Once you've made the effort to spend time with them and respect their tradition, they're very welcoming and make sure that you have the best time there.


While you found many abandoned pitches, did you also see a lot of well-played grounds too? What's the football scene in Corsica like?

Yes, that's for sure. While the project was centred around forgotten pitches, there are actually quite a few established stadiums on the island. The standard of local football is actually pretty impressive. There are no teams from Corsica in Ligue 1 at the moment, but from 2013 to 2015, four teams were professional. Sporting Club Bastia and Gazelec Ajaccio were in Ligue 1, with AC Ajaccio and CA Bastia playing in Ligue 2.

Even if it's never easy for these teams because of budget issues, they play in proper stadiums with an amazing support from the fans. There have been some incidents in recent history, but the passion behind the teams is unlike anywhere else. The fans are proud of their identity, proud of their history, and proud of the players who wear their colours and represent their culture. The French media are really harsh on teams from Corsica, but I feel like they too deserve to share the limelight.

Where next?

I am exploring as many places as I can in the U.K at the moment. The next thing on my list is actually a trip to go back to the origins of football as I am planning on going to Sheffield. The idea is to visit Sandygate Road, the 'Oldest Football Ground in the World', and 'The World's First Football Club': Sheffield F.C. There is also a lot to be covered in Scotland, with some very picturesque pitches. That's the best thing with this project, there's always a football ground near you.

Photography by Jeremie Roturier. You can follow Football Campagne adventures here.