In 2003, a group called the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee started a residential home for kids from various brothel colonies at Baruipur, a small town near Kolkata. The group, long active in advocating for the rights of brothel workers in Kolkata, felt the need to do something for the children of the sex workers as well as their mothers. Most of these children do not get any education at all, and many are driven into the sex trade or are trapped in drug rackets.
Durbar stepped in to keep these kids motivated for the future by separating them from their mothers other than just for education and accommodations. They identified football as a means to integrate these children into mainstream society. First was to provide coaching by recruiting professional football coach and support staffs. The effort started small, but it has since expanded; field workers move from brothel to brothel, looking for promising footballers they can bring to the academy. The results have been promising. The team has become champion of the Indian Football Association’s nursery league and will field a team in the senior division. And the training is paying off. Last year two boys from the academy were selected by the U.K.’s Manchester United to practice with its junior team in Manchester.
Balarka Brahma is an independent photographer from Kolkata, India. He mainly works with various Kolkata based NGOs for their works in various sectors like education, health and mental care along with his personal projects. His works have been published in different magazines like New York Times, Galli, Better Photography, Lens Culture, Invisible Photographer Asia, Private and many more.