In Pictures

In pictures: Football for change

A woman stands on a sandy football pitch Image copyright Charlie Clift

A new exhibition of photographs by Charlie Clift celebrates the way football can bring communities together. The pictures were taken to mark 10 years of the Premier Skills Programme, which uses football to encourage change in some of the poorest areas in the world.

Blind girls are partnered with seeing friends at a training session in Kolkata Image copyright Charlie Clift
Image caption Blind girls are partnered with seeing friends at a training session in Kolkata. Coaches are keen to include everyone, even those with disabilities who are often left without opportunities.
Julius trains children in a township in Pretoria. Image copyright Charlie Clift
Image caption Julius trains children in a township in Pretoria. Although they have to use basketballs instead of footballs and play on a dusty open area, their passion and skills are exciting to watch.

The programme sees Premier League coaches travel to a range of countries where they provide face-to-face training for new coaches and teachers who can pass on this knowledge to those in their communities, creating a sustainable model for the future. So far Premier Skills has reached 29 countries including Afghanistan, Malaysia, Mexico, Sudan and Vietnam.

A group of Chelsea supporters feels more like a family in Johannesburg Image copyright Charlie Clift
Image caption A group of Chelsea supporters feels more like a family in Johannesburg, sharing childcare and memories of games gone by.
Girls pass a ball to each other Image copyright Charlie Clift
Image caption Pupils from The Orient Girls School in Kolkata train on an open area of grass which they have to share with the cows wandering the streets of their city.
A stallholder in the backstreets of Kolkata wears an Arsenal top alongside his local attire Image copyright Charlie Clift
Image caption A stallholder in the backstreets of Kolkata wears an Arsenal top alongside his local attire.

As well as photographing those taking part in football training and games Clift captured the football followers he encountered, the everyday people in their favourite team's kit.

A man sits amongst football memorabilia Image copyright Charlie Clift
Image caption Barry is a gastroenterologist in Johannesburg. He has lined every room in his practice with photographs of Manchester United and memorabilia from matches.
A group of football fans Image copyright Charlie Clift
Image caption A large crowd celebrates Manchester United's win over Leicester City on the streets of Mumbai.
Football fans celebrate Image copyright Charlie Clift
Image caption Fans celebrate a goal in a bar in Soweto's backstreets.
Three boys sit inside their house Image copyright Charlie Clift
Image caption Boys from the Kolkata Premier Skill programme return to their homes after an evening of training.

Clift said: "Before embarking on the trip I expected to find passion, fun and a sense of community. What I did not expect is to find out that for many people football is not just a way of spending an afternoon, it is a second family, a support group and a driver of social change."

So far the programme has reached more than 1.2 million young people in places like Soweto and the slums of Kolkata in India.

A boy runs along the street Image copyright Charlie Clift
Image caption This boy attends his local Premier Skills sessions in Soweto. Both his parents died so he now lives with his grandmother, who is proud of his footballing achievements and excited about his future.

These photographs are on display at The British Council until 24 March.

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