It’s a dream come true for teenage footballers Surojit Bhattacharya and Bishwajit Nandi. The two children of sex workers from the city are all set to represent India in the Homeless World Cup in Poland this August.
Five years of rigorous training and the much-needed motivation have borne fruit for these 18-year-olds, who are slated to participate in the tournament at Poznan in Poland beginning on August 10. Besides India, 63 other countries are taking part in the four-a-side competition.
The two, who stay in Sonagachi — one of the largest red-light areas in Asia — are products of the sports and extra-curricular facility at Baruipur (around 25 km from Kolkata) called Rahul Vidya Niketan, an initiative of an NGO for sex workers — Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC).
The modest establishment in North 24 Parganas district ensures that the “stigmatised wards of sex workers get access to a wholesome education”.
“They have been training with me for the last five years and are perhaps more talented than children from privileged backgrounds. What they needed most was the motivation to dream of a better life,” Biswajit Mazumdar, sports trainer, told IANS.
Mazumdar had earlier turned out for teams like Aryans and Wari in the Kolkata league.
The chosen two are scheduled for their visas interviews in New Delhi later this week. They will join the other ten squad members selected from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu followed by a seven-day camp at Nagpur. They will then take off for the event August 2.
“Not many of those from the marginalised sections can think of going abroad. Yet our students have consistently made our country proud,” said Mazumdar, recalling Surojit’s stint in Mexico last year at the Homeless World Cup.
DMSC secretary Bharati Dey says it’s a life changing opportunity for them.
“The school is a way to hone their latent talents. Thanks to all the donations and our patrons we have been maintaining it for the last three years. There are children of the locals mixing with the sex workers’ wards and in the tournament they will be seen as normal, general kids and not as sex workers’ children,” Dey told IANS.