All posts by Team OSCAR

The importance of taking the initiative – on and off the pitch

Football is an incredible tool to bring people together and change lives for the better. In March I had the privilege of visiting India for the first time, and I was inspired by the story of Umesh Rathod, the football-crazy 15-year-old that I met in Mumbai.

Umesh faces daily difficulties in the slum community where he lives, where access to water is limited and some children are sent to work and forced out of education from an early age to support their families.

His parents insisted that Umesh stays in school and encouraged him to follow his passion to play football. He introduced me to his family and showed me his house, his medals and his trophies. He was very happy about the visit, and the same went for me. I could tell almost instantly the he has the right attitude and charater to deal with any situation, and football will help him greatly.

Our encounter in Mumbai was just one example of howGeneration Amazing, the human and social legacy programme initiated during Qatar’s successful bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ in 2010, is using the power of football to positively impact lives and create sustainable social development in communities such as the one where Umesh lives.

In Mumbai, we inaugurated the construction of a Generation Amazing community football pitch which will serve him and those living in the area including Poonam, a 19-year-old female football player who is giving back to her community through inspirational coaching sessions for young kids.

Ever since I was a child I have this consciousness that football is my passion. It is my life. The experience to visit India was marvelous. The feeling when you are a child is one of freedom, and to be able to contribute an opportunity to these children in India makes me very happy and proud. Football can change the world, without a doubt.

In Umesh I saw the happiness which he has for football, which took me back in time, to the sensation of wanting to succeed in football. Over the coming four weeks, I will be lacing my boots for the last games of an unforgettable career which has spanned over 21 years and taken me to every corner of the world.

It has been a fantastic end to my playing career here in Qatar. Winning the Qatar Stars League this month was the title which was missing. Since I arrived here, we have won everything and only the league was missing, so I’m very happy for this fantastic Al Sadd Club team which worked so hard and deservedly won the title.

As a sportsperson, you never get tired of winning. Once you have won a title you always want to win more. We have a very good generation of football players in Qatar, many of them from the exciting young Qatari national team which won the Asian Cup earlier this year.

It is a privilege to have been able to play football until the age of 39, and now I would like to finish the season on a high by winning the Amir Cup and reaching the next stage in the Asian Champions League. This is my last season as a player, but I am already excited for what the near future holds as a coach.

You will see that my coaching philosophy reflects the style which we were able to develop over many years through the influence of Johan Cruyff, La Masia and the Barcelona way of playing football. I love to see teams taking the initiative on the pitch, playing attacking football and going back to the essence of what we all love about this game since our childhood days; having possession of the football.

Xavi visits OSCAR Foundation, kicks off pitch construction

Xavi Hernandez visited the Back Garden site in Mumbai’s Colaba region to mark the construction of a new community pitch on March 18, 2019. OSCAR beneficiaries who are a part of Generation Amazing programmes and Generation Amazing Youth Ambassadors joined in welcoming the Barcelona FC legend.

Generation Amazing is the human and social legacy programme initiated during Qatar’s successful bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2022™. It harnesses the power of football to positively impact lives and create sustainable social development in communities.

The football turf, once constructed will effectively reach out to more than 2000 children from low-income communities and surrounding schools.

A total of 28 community pitches have already been built across the Middle East and Asia by Generation Amazing, with the programme reaching more than 250,000 beneficiaries in seven countries.

OSCAR International volunteer Amirah Miller’s experience with OSCAR Foundation

I am unsure the English language has enough adjectives to adequately describe the truly incredible work the OSCAR foundation tirelessly carries out on a daily basis, empowering and inspiring the youth from the most underprivileged areas in India. It has been a privilege to volunteer with them for the last month and to see first hand the progress being made in these neighbourhoods. I was introduced to the OSCAR foundation in October 2017 when Ashok and the under 14 team came to England for the first UK schools tour.

The friendly smiles, welcoming faces, beautiful colours and children playing made me realise, that actually, these people were in fact so rich.

Since then I have been itching to come out to Mumbai and see where the magic started. I planned as part of my year travelling to spend a month volunteering and teaching in the community. During my first visit to the Ambedkar Nagar slum I was overwhelmed by the altruism and community cohesion in the neighbourhood. With a population of over 60,000 the chaos that surrounds these families is humbling, no running water, communal toilets, no furniture, no showers all luxuries we take for granted at home. From an outsider looking in the concept of a “slum” is associated with a mass of negative connotations but having spent time in the community these negative preconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth about what life is like for these families. The friendly smiles, welcoming faces, beautiful colours and children playing made me realise, that actually, these people were in fact so rich. Materialistic possessions mean nothing, happiness comes from within. I left Ambedkar Nagar that first day with a heart full of optimism. The sense of community, the co-dependence, the altruism, the generosity shown by the families was inspiring. At home in London I don’t know a single one of my neighbours’ names and here I’d been welcomed and greeted by more people in 20 minutes than I have in 20 years of living in my own local area. I was fuelled with inspiration and ready to get involved.

I was astounded when I saw the work being carried out in the office, where the staff work tracking school attendance, planning training sessions, additional academic and computer classes, nutrition distribution and young leader training and development.

The Oscar Foundation is a charity that through football instils the value of education and empowers underprivileged children with life skills to take responsibility for their community’s development. Ashok Rathod and Suraj Patro set up the organisation and now have over 3000 boys and girls who have enrolled and are attending school and playing football. The vision to create a world that enables young people to become role models, to mobilise their communities for positive social change is achieved every time a child chooses education over ignorance and crime. The OSCAR staff do a truly outstanding job of facilitating this. I was astounded when I saw the work being carried out in the office, where the staff work tracking school attendance, planning training sessions, additional academic and computer classes, nutrition distribution and young leader training and development. It was so inspiring to see such collective cohesion from every single member of the OSCAR team who work tirelessly to provide a platform for children in the community to flourish, succeed and achieve a future and quality of life some of them never thought was possible.

During my time as a volunteer, I have attended many football training sessions, which are fantastically planned to include cross-curricular links. For the younger children the training sessions include aspects of English and Maths and for the older age groups sessions will include a socially poignant take-home message such as the danger of drug use.

As a teacher in the UK, this is something my students really take for granted. They have all the provisions there but fail to utilise them and appreciate how fortunate they are.

Every session concludes with a reflection of the practice and this is so elegantly related back to the take-home message of the day. The sessions seamlessly combine football disciplines with life skills to equip the children with the tools to be role model members of their communities and in turn inspire others. The need for such practice has never been more crucial, the future for communities such as Ambedkar Nagar is uncertain. Mumbai is developing as a city at such an astounding rate in order to be able to survive in such an economic
climate this next generation must take action and ensure they are educated. Another thing that truly humbled me was how every child in the OSCAR family valued their education, they knew the power and possibilities it provided them, their family and community. As a teacher in the UK, this is something my students really take for granted. They have all the provisions there but fail to utilise them and appreciate how fortunate they are. I am excited to return to the UK and share my experiences with my pupils, I hope that through such discussions it will open their minds to the wider world and motivate them to take every opportunity offered to them.

It has been such an amazing experience teaching the girls, their thirst for knowledge is what every teacher dreams of finding in a student!

I also spent time tutoring Atisha and Mamta who were part of the 2018 OSCAR UK girls football schools tour. Atisha and Mamta due to family responsibilities such aswater collection are both external college students. This means that they study at home and will enter externally to complete their exams. They are both incredibly intelligent, hardworking, fiery young women. I go into the community most mornings and teach them in the room above the computer centre where there is a whiteboard (absolute luxury) from 10-12 when the water in the community is turned on. The community only has running water for 2 hours every day, so the girls must collect their allocated 6 containers of water from the communal taps for their families to be able to drink, wash, cook and clean. It has been such an amazing experience teaching the girls, their thirst for knowledge is what every teacher dreams of finding in a student! The biggest challenge whilst teaching them was their lack of study skills, they did not know how to learn, they had been copying out pages and pages from their textbooks without possessing any understanding of the content they were covering. The first few sessions we worked on deciphering the meaning of texts, condensing content to make it more manageable, adding context to content and revision strategies. Both girls are so incredibly hard working I know they will achieve everything they set their mind to.

Being exposed to such pure, happy, joyous children with the world at their feet has warmed my heart more than I ever could have imagined.

This last month in Mumbai has been a truly unforgettable experience. Being exposed to such pure, happy, joyous children with the world at their feet has warmed my heart more than I ever could have imagined. Each and every member of the team are crucial to the infrastructure of the foundation and do a truly incredible job of achieving the collective goal of bettering the lives of the families in the community. Together they have made the impossible possible for so many children, making dreams come true on and off the pitch. I am so grateful to have spent this time with the OSCAR family, staff and young leaders. Their work is utterly awe-inspiring all for a movement I am so fully, wholeheartedly enrolled into.

Everton and the Premier League launch Mumbai’s first football programme for Children with Disability

Mumbai: In partnership with the OSCAR Foundation, Everton and the Premier League launched Mumbai’s first football project for Children with Disabilities on 26 October 2018.

The disability project is supported by the Premier League’s International Development Fund in partnership with Streetfootballworld – an international ‘Football for Development’ charity. This funding from the Premier League will benefit 30 young coaches and 100 children and young people with disabilities in Mumbai.

Ashok Rathod, Founder and Director, OSCAR Foundation says, “In India, Children with Disabilities often face exclusion and discrimination. Limited access to education, sports, and related infrastructure affects their well-being and limits their opportunities. We believe that Children with Disabilities have the potential to excel in any field of their choice and sports can contribute to developing that spirit. Through our partnership with Everton and Premier League, we aim to spread awareness on disability issues in India and encourage people to build a positive attitude towards Children with Disabilities.”

OSCAR coaches and Young Leaders were trained by Everton’s Disability Manager Steve Johnson and Everton in the Community Disability Development Coach Jessica McNally over a period of one week in Mumbai.

Everton in the Community’s Disability Coach Steve Johnson says, “The OSCAR Foundation does very similar community work to Everton in the Community, so there is a lot of synergy between the two organisations. Everton has a well-respected disability programme and this project promises to be a catalyst for an excellent new collaboration. There is some clear difference between the issues that people with disability face in the UK and India, but using football as a tool is a great way of engaging people with disability who lack opportunities and are often marginalised and discriminated against.”

While the OSCAR Foundation has been engaging Youth with Disabilities in all their programmes so far across India, this training with Everton in Community and Premier League will prepare OSCAR Foundation’s coaches and Young Leaders with more effective techniques to engage Children with Disabilities. As a part of this project, regular inclusive football sessions and an annual football festival with disabled and non-disabled children will be organised by OSCAR Foundation to promote inclusion and equality.

The Asian Age, Mumbai Edition: http://www.asianage.com/sports/in-other-sports/281018/specialised-coaching-for-special-children.html

Girls Football Team from India’s Low-Income Communities Gear Up For UK Tour

PRESS RELEASE

Girls Football Team from India’s Low-Income Communities Gear Up For UK Tour

A U-17 girls football team comprised of players from Mumbai slums and rural parts of Jharkhand will leave for OSCAR #kicklikeagirl UK Schools Tour 2018 on September 30, 2018. The team with support from the British deputy high commission, Mumbai will play against some of the top UK schools like Malvern College, Bradfield College, Downe House, St Mary’s Calne, Heathfield Ascot, and the Cheltenham Ladies’ College.

Interestingly, the schools opposite whom the U-17 girls’ team is scheduled to play in the UK have been raising funds for them and working hard to make their UK experience a memorable one. Until recently, many of the participating girls did not own a passport and this will be their first time going overseas, so their excitement is inspiring.

The U-17 girls’ team is formed by OSCAR Foundation, a not for profit organisation based in Mumbai which uses football as the tool to encourage girls and boys from low-income communities towards completing their education.

“Young girls from India’s low-income communities face all kinds of discrimination. Since their parents are uneducated, they are often forced to leave school or are married off at a young age. OSCAR wants to empower these girls and change the mindset of their parents. We want these girls to believe in themselves, give them opportunities to showcase their talent, and let them dream big,” says Ashok Rathod, Founder, OSCAR Foundation.

The U-17 girls team will be hosted by HRH The Countess of Wessex at Windsor Castle, and be the guests of Manchester United and Everton FC, visit the London Eye, Go Ape during their UK Tour.

British Deputy High Commission Mumbai has been supporting the Kick Like A Girl project for the past two years.

British Deputy High Commissioner Crispin Simon said: “I want to thank all the schools hosting the girls from Mumbai’s OSCAR Foundation. The UK government supports empowering of young girls and giving them opportunities to succeed. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for the girls and staff of the host schools — I hope you will find it an enriching opportunity and the one that stays with you for all of your lives.”

OSCAR #kicklikeagirl UK Schools Tour 2018 also marks 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote in the UK.

About OSCAR Foundation

OSCAR (Organisation for Social Change and Responsibility) Foundation is an award-winning Mumbai-based non-profit that not only teaches Football to children and youth but also helps them to understand the value of education. OSCAR Foundation encourages children from low-income backgrounds to take responsibility for their community’s development and supports them in achieving their maximum potential. Since 2006, OSCAR Foundation has reached out to over 3000 children and youth in Mumbai, Karnataka, Jharkhand, and Delhi. Visit https://www.oscar-foundation.org to know more about OSCAR’s Programmes in India.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Chirag Sutar

Communication Manager, OSCAR Foundation

Email: chirag@oscar-foundation.org