Sachin Chavan (aged 13) talks about how the OSCAR UK Football Tour changed his life.
“Selection for the UK tour was the best thing that could happen to me. I never dreamt I would sit on an aeroplane.”
How did your parents react when you told them you had been selected to go on the OSCAR UK Football tour?
“When I told my parents about my UK trip, they were shocked and surprised. They did not believe me. Only after Ashok Sir told them did they realise it was true. My mother told me she was extremely proud of me and that I was the first person in the entire family and extended family to visit the UK. She told me to continue working hard, learn good habits from the UK and have a good time there.”
What did selection mean to you?
Selection for the UK tour was the best thing that could happen to me. I never dreamt I would sit on an aeroplane. I did not really know anything about the UK other than that they were good at football and have very famous teams. To be selected made me very proud and confident of my abilities.
What was the best part of your trip?
The best part of the trip was the visit to The London Eye. When I was on the London Eye, I felt like I was in heaven. They took us so high we felt we were in the clouds. I could see all of London, which was so beautiful. I also loved the football matches. I especially loved the last match against Beaudesert Park School because we sang the Indian National anthem.
Did you like the UK?
I loved the UK. I found the people very kind and respectful. I loved the beautiful houses with gardens. I loved the schools and the students – many of who are my friends now.”
Did you find anything difficult?
I did not really face any difficulty. The weather was a little cold for us and it made me shiver initially. After a few days I got acclimatized to the UK. I didn’t really eat much food. I had taken my favourite pickle from home. So, I just mixed that with rice. We also went to Indian restaurants. I made a lot of friends there in the UK.
What did you think about the schools in the UK?
I was impressed by the schools. They have classes of 15 – 16 students. In Mumbai, we have a class of 60– 70 children. The schools are huge. They have massive grounds and I feel if I would go there I would get lost in the greenery.
Did you learn anything in the UK, which will change your life in the slums?
I learnt how to be disciplined, respectful and keep the neighbourhood clean. The biggest lesson I personally learnt was to always respect everyone, irrespective of his or her age, stature, etc. I learnt how to be a leader in the UK. I now have an extra responsibility to share my experiences and teachings to other members of my community and school.
Would you describe the UK tour as life changing?
Yes, the UK trip was absolutely life changing for me. It gave me a glimpse of the world I would never have been able to see. It made me realise I have to work hard in life if I want to ever visit the UK again. I feel now everyone gives me a lot of respect and value at school and in my neighbourhood.” Have you shared your experience with your family, friends and the community? “Yes, I have shared all my experiences in school and in my community. At school, my teachers and school principle congratulated me. I am more mature and responsible now. I feel my schoolmates and community members look at me as a role model. I definitely still need to improve myself and work harder, especially in school. I also want to become a better footballer.”
Has the tour made you feel stronger and more confident to pursue your dreams?
Yes, this tour has instilled a huge amount of confidence in my abilities. I have never felt more confident in my life. I remember, earlier I used to always doubt myself. But, the OSCAR UK tour has made me confident and taught me to be more persistent in life.