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The forward pass

Kolkata, India – April 2015. Sonagachi is one of the largest brothel colonies in Asia and it houses more than 20,000 sex workers. Sonagachi is situated at the northern fringe of Kolkata, West Bengal.

The forward pass, photo essay by Balarka Brahma

[T]here is only one sport which perhaps explains everything and that is the one thing which level up various uneven things in this world. Certainly the name of the sport is football, the most popular gaming discipline in this world. In 2003 a group of people started a residential home for the kids from various red light areas of Bengal at Baruipur, a small town near West Bengal state capital Kolkata. The name of the organization is ‘Durbar’ and they were very active in different red light areas of Kolkata for the human rights of sex workers that time.

They felt that they need to do something for the kids of those areas. Most of them either do not get any kind of education in their lifetime or they eventually get involved with their mothers in the same business. Sometime they get trapped in drug rackets. So, it is very difficult to provide them proper upbringing. But after sometime Durbar felt that they need something more to keep those kids motivated for the future by separating them from their mothers other than just education and accommodation. One big target of this separation was to show them a path by which they can enter into the so called main stream societies. And they found football. They started providing football coaching by recruiting professional football coach and support staffs. Initially they started in a small way, but later gradually they expanded. The field workers move around different areas to find promising footballer and bring them to the academy. Last year they became champion of the nursery league organized by Indian Football Association and they are going to field the team in senior division this year.

Now the football team consists of both the players from the home and outside and they follow it for the same target to associate the kids with outside world. Last year a boy named Rajib Roy, a promising footballer from this academy, got selected by famous English football club Manchester United to practice with their junior team in Manchester.

Kolkata, India – April 2015. Rajib Roy (17) at his sonagachi residence in Kolkata where he lives with his mother and younger brother. Rajib is a promising footballer and he is a product of Durbar Sports Academy. He got selected by Manchester United Football Club to get trained at Manchester facility last year. Now he is playing for East Bengal junior team.
Baruipur, India – February 2015. The main entrance of the academy.
Baruipur, India – March 2015. Buddhadeb Halder (18) is brushing his teeth. He hails from shantipur, a small town which is about 60 miles away from Kolkata. He has been staying at the academy from beginning.
Baruipur, India – March 2015. Ismail Sardar (15) is preparing for the practice in front of the main gate of the building and one of his good friends is sitting beside him.
Baruipur, India – March 2015. Boys are having morning practice session at the academy ground under chief coach Mr. Biswajit Majumder.
Baruipur, India – February 2015. Buddhadeb and Rohit are discussing something very personal among themselves.
Baruipur, India – February 2015. A boy is taking a shower at bathroom.
Baruipur, India – March 2015. Buddhadeb, Raja and Ismail are taking rest at their room just before the afternoon practice.
Baruipur, India – February 2015. Afternoon practice is going on.
Baruipur, India – March 2015. Akash (10) is on the boundary wall of the home. The wall is one of their favorite playing spots at after noon. They can also see the football practice from there.
Kolkata, India – April 2015. Rekha Roy, mother of rajib, is embracing her son with sheer joy and proudness at their sonagachi residence in Kolkata. Rekha is a former sex worker and currently doing job at a bag factory near sonagachi. She earns about $50 per month and manages everything from house rent to her son’s sports and educational cost.

BalarkaBrahmaBalarka Brahma ( is an independent documentary photographer from Kolkata, India. He has been doing photography since 2010. Initially he started experiment everything, but after attending a workshop on Documentary Photography in 2012 he permanently shifted to documentary photography and photojournalism. Since then he has concentrated rigorously on social and thematic stories. His works have been published in different national and international magazines.

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