"Indian girls can play": slum football in Mumbai
The second camera of Goal Click came from India! Our amazing and inspirational photographer was 14-year-old Blessy Sippora from Dharavi in Mumbai - one of Asia’s most densely populated slums, where Blessy’s family has lived for 40 years. Blessy has played football for two years and currently plays with the Reality Gives Girls’ Football Program.
Reality Gives is a two-part organisation – Reality Tours and Travel provides tours of Dharavi, using 80% of the profits to fund Reality Gives. Reality Gives runs a variety of projects in Dharavi, including a kindergarten with 400 children, a youth empowerment initiative, dance and art classes, a cricket project for boys and the Girl’s Football Program. In the past year over 60 girls have taken part and ages range from 11-18, tackling the common stigma against girls that prevents them having the opportunity to play sport in India.
After winning a competition amongst her teammates to write why she should be our Goal Click representative, Blessy took these fantastic photos of her teammates training. She spoke to us about the photos, what football means to her and why all Indian girls should play football.
What were you trying to say or show with your photos? Was there any wider meaning?
I wanted to show that Indian girls can play football. I think that all girls who want to play games, not only football, should be allowed to. In India there is a mentality that girls are not going to play, girls are only working at home. And then they are married. But I think all girls want to play! I enjoyed taking the photos and all my friends helped me.
What does football mean to you? Has it changed your life in any way?
Football has made me strong and confident. When I was not playing football I was afraid of the dark and being alone in the dark. When I was not playing football I took my mother everywhere. Then I played football and football changed my life. Through football I thought that I am a big girl - now I’m not afraid of the dark and I’m much stronger. I have become fit and have also learned life skills like teamwork, discipline and communication to name a few.
What does your family think of you playing football?
Even though I am in my 10th grade, my mother encourages me to play because I have learned to manage time for studies and practice sessions. Both my parents are proud of me and that makes me happy! A lot of people know me now and I get chance to make new friends and visit new places. I get to play football with my sister as well, who also plays with our team.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I want to play at a high level. For India! My dream is to play professional football and encourage girls from Dharavi to take up football.
What have you enjoyed about taking the photos for Goal Click?
I like that at the moment when you are taking photos you think only about the photo you are taking. I like that when I was taking photos everything was normal and real, not taking a still with no movement. My favourite ones were standing in the rain! I am really happy that I got the opportunity to showcase how football is played in my country – and that even girls can play football! I am not a professional photographer but I can take good pictures. I have the best team and the best coaches who are always there to help and support me.