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Justice Ezi - Last Goal Wins Peckham Fringe Interview

Celebrated for its triumphant sold-out debut at A Pinch Of Vault, winning the Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion Award! Last Goal Wins is not a play you want to miss! Exploring the question: Why do African players not represent their native country in sports, such as football? It centres around, a group of 5 boys trying to get the final 5 spots on the Nigerian National team. Until a seasoned player swoops in securing a guaranteed spot. Now, the boys must do all they can to get into the team, knowing that one won’t make it.

As part of our Peckham Fringe interview series we chat to writer and assistant director Justice Ezi.

What can you tell me about your show?
The show is essentially about how far will you go to represent your country, how much can you root for your country and at what point does it become an issue. 

The show is bringing these young men straight from London, some from ends, some battling with identity; battling with sexuality, pride, abuse and battling on which food is better from the country they’re from, as they’re dropped into Nigeria. A country not many have been too but due to their mixed heritage, they know this a great chance for them showcase their football quality on the biggest stage; to become part of the Super Eagles. 

Where did the inspiration for the show come from?
The question ‘Why do African players not represent their native country in sports, like football?’ Stems from the interview of José Mourinho who stated ‘FIFA should make things fair by refusing players from representing other countries’ when talking about the quality of African players in football, and honestly I looked at people’s responses and people agreed, but some disagreed. So this was a catalyst and I began researching players, rules on dual heritage for countries, footballing rules on representing countries, citizenship and being Nigerian myself, I talked to family and friends on what they think about Nigeria as a country in terms of the political climate and the national team. 

Additionally, the question I think has been edge into people’s mind, especially those of African descent who follow football, follow different sporting personalities or follow national football teams, as this question was buried in my mind when I was younger, from playing fifa on the console to playing on the pitch and asking young kids on what national team they will represent when they make it big in sports, the answers will surprise you!

How have you approached bringing your show to life?
I watched the play Red Pitch to give me insight on if it’ll be possible to have an actual ball on stage, and it was! So I knew that I was on the right track to bringing the play to life and explore conversations that Red Pitch didn’t explore. Then I watched Dear England, although they didn’t have football on stage, I witnessed how they showcased the football element physically, so I aim to have a blend of the two plays and their style of telling a story through it physically and through having a football as a prop! This results in creating something magical for newcomers of theatre and for young people to see themselves in these characters. What’s special about this show, although it’s a football play, I made sure that I utilise the storytelling of football as it’s a great way to connect with the audience that follow the sports. And to those that don’t follow or have a clue, I know that when people watch football or celebrities of any sports, they are engaged with the lives of these players, and the story on how they became an athlete. 

That is what I intend to do, right a simple story of a group of young people all trying to achieve a goal but have a journey lead, character driven story, that way those who don’t follow football will get to feel discomfort, sorry or joyful for these characters as they try all they can to achieve the dream. Moreover, I want to highlight a variety of cultures as these characters are mixed with different heritage and not only do I want to big up Naija and the Super Eagles, I also want to highlight the wonderful nature of Colombia, Morocco and France, so each young person that comes to watch the show, even if they’re not from the country, they are aware of the story and are aware of what an athletes do to become who they are, whilst being proud of where they come from. 

If you were a biscuit, what would you be and why?
Chocolate digestives. They’re my favourite. You can’t really go wrong. But then again, I do like shortbread and that’s incredibly tasty!

What keeps you inspired?
My mum. Friends and the will to keep finding new ways to bring joy to those who are don’t have it.

What do you hope an audience takes away from Peckham Fringe?
That these stories, they may be rough or final draft, but they’re constantly trying to push boundaries of theatre and Peckham Fringe will provide a platform to tell these diverse stories. 

Last Goal Wins plays as part of Peckham Fringe on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th June 2024. Tickets are available from

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