Around 20 years ago Nudrat Afza was given a camera and started taking photographs of people and places in her local neighbourhood of Manningham. She still uses this camera today to create striking and powerful representations of modern society. Her latest project is a calendar portraying female supporters at Bradford City Football Club.
Can you explain the idea behind your calendar?
A couple of years ago two friends asked my daughter Khadijah, who has a life-threatening condition and learning difficulties, to go to a Bradford City football match. As her full-time carer I had to accompany her and so finally I went to my first football match.
As we walked towards the ground I felt if a magnet was pulling me, and I had no control over this feeling. The amber and claret uniformity of people walking towards the football ground felt very moving and poignant. Some of the chants that supporters sang sounded like hymns. I grew up near Valley Parade in Manningham and had never been to see a football game. Now it was my daughter who led me by my hand up the the steps to our steeply banked seats. She was confident, and had a sense of purpose as she guided me. Our usual roles were reversed. The atmosphere was amazing, people were so friendly and it was a wonderful experience.
On my first visit to the City I expected it to be all men but there were all these fantastic, committed women, girls cheering for the team. It was during this time that the idea of taking photographs developed.
Was there a particular reason you wanted to focus on female supporters?
I know things have changed, but just a little! It is still a game dominated by men at every level, including in the ground, at management level, the presenters and of course in the media.
When I first went to Bradford City I couldn’t believe how many beautiful women and girls there were in the crowd. And they were every bit as involved in the action as the men. I had to photograph them. I wanted to capture the beauty of the female football fans at Bradford and their enthusiasm and passion. The photographs were taken between January, just after the magical Chelsea match, and April this year.
Do you have a favourite image from the the collection and if so why?
I don’t have a favourite, I like all of them for different reasons. They show the different aspects and, importantly, emotions of being a supporter.
What is your relationship with Bradford City Football Club now?
I started off by taking pictures outside the football ground. Bradford City Football Club has so kindly given me a press pass to go inside the ground to take the photos. I am very excited about this and I hope to take some more pictures during the home matches in this new season. I’m a new fan and now a proud season ticket holder!
The calendar is available to buy from the reception desk at Bradford City Football Club with some of the proceeds going to charity.