The photographer: Maddie Meyer
Maddie Meyer is a sports photographer for Getty Images based in Boston, USA. She was the 2018 FIFA U17 Women's World Cup official tournament photographer.
Who is in the photos? What did you try to show with the photos?
These photos were taken at the U17 Women's World Cup in Montevideo, Uruguay. Most of the photos are of the players - on the pitch, a few in the locker room or tunnel before the matches. I was photographing the U17 Women's World Cup for FIFA using my digital cameras creating work for their website and social media platforms. Using this film camera I tried to give the photos more of a party snapshot quality. I knew the grain would provide an effect that would seem more informal.
Are there any good stories connected with the people or teams you photographed?
I really enjoyed photographing Team Spain, who ended up winning the entire event. They were super-enthusiastic throughout and emotive. They are clearly a very tight-knit group and are very comfortable in each other’s space. I think that is especially obvious when jumping into each other’s arms and often embracing. That’s how they were the whole tournament.
You can see the players are so excited to have just won the entire tournament. It also illustrates their age. Jumping and being carried around like this screams teenage girl to me, which I love. My favourite photos are ones where there is a moment and sense of connection.
The Japanese team were preparing for the start of their quarterfinal match against New Zealand. It was a pretty hot day so I wanted to capture the team together cooling off before their biggest game of the tournament so far. Unfortunately they ended up losing to New Zealand on penalty kicks.
Members of Team Ghana were in the tunnel before one of their matches. These players loved being photographed with some calling out to me for photos before or after their matches. I was in the tunnel to photograph the intensity of the players but couldn't help but photograph Jacqueline Owusu, #6, and her beautiful smile.
Team Mexico celebrating after their semi-final win against Canada. It was an intense showdown between the two CONCACAF teams and there was a lot of emotion as the Mexican players celebrated moving onto the Final of the tournament. Here the players are celebrating towards their family members that made the journey down to Uruguay to support them.
Capi was the very well loved mascot of the 2018 U17 Women's World Cup. This is a rare moment where she was alone. I liked the clean composition of her on the field celebrating Mexico's win over Canada in the semi-finals.
Members of team Spain celebrating their win in the Final against Mexico. Of course there was a lot of emotion. Spain's U20 team had just taken second place over the summer so this U17 team was very motivated to win the whole thing after coming so close. Even after the awards ceremony the players spent almost an hour taking photos on their phones and posing for photographers with their new hardware.
Was there anything different or unique about this tournament compared to sport that you usually cover?
Living in Boston means I spend most of my time covering baseball, basketball, American football and hockey. I very rarely photograph football (or soccer as we call it). Since I grew up playing I always really look forward to working with FIFA and photographing their events. I could really relate to these players because I remember what it was like to play at that age. I also really enjoy the little time I spend photographing female athletes. I think it is important to highlight their achievements and play a small part in giving them some of the recognition they deserve. If young women and girls can see these athletes succeed I know it will motivate more to pursue playing sports.
What is your football story?
I started playing football when I was five years old. I fell in love with it and it quickly became a major part of my life. I played for a travel team between ages 8 and 18, driving up and down the east coast most weekends to play. I stopped playing once I got to college in order to pursue photojournalism. I dove into sport photography because I was already comfortable with the atmosphere; it is very competitive and fast paced. Playing football taught me so much about working in a team and in all weather conditions, which has served me well in my career.
What does football mean to you?
Football is my favourite sport because it is so much about teamwork. My favourite memories of playing myself are of spending time with teammates and generating that sense of community. That is something I definitely try to illustrate through my work, and why I particularly enjoy the youth tournaments.
What does the future look like for women’s football?
I think the future of women's football looks bright. With FIFA putting more resources into the women's game I hope that means more of an audience for these athletes outside of the major events. I am always very happy to play a small role in documenting these athletes and bringing attention to their achievements.