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Meet the Indian football team from the slums of Mumbai who are undefeated on tour in the UK
Gloucestershire Live
By Ben Falconer
Photo by: Simon Pizzey

10 October 2017


But between them are usually thousands of miles, and a massive gulf in living standards and educational opportunities

Impoverished Indian boys who have almost nothing were united through football with pupils at a fee-paying school near Stroud. 

When the match between Beaudesert Park School and the Oscar Foundation team from Mumbai kicked off at 2.30pm today, they were just two sets of boys with a ball.

The UK tour was the brainchild of a former parent at the school in Minchinhampton and Nailsworth, who met the Oscar Foundation director and founder Ashok Rathod while in the Indian city.

As his boys warmed up and shared warm greetings with actor Nathaniel Parker, who hosted the touring party the day before, Ashok said the match is more than about just football.
“The boys are very excited,” he said. “We came here on September 30, with 14 boys aged between 12 and 14. It’s an amazing experience for them. Life is difficult for them, it is a very different life and they do a lot of hard work in a Government school.

“Through football and the Oscar Foundation, we want them to do well at school and go on the university – education is the only way out of the poverty that they are in.”

He met patron of the OSCAR foundation Lucinda Sowerbutts from Frampton Mansell, and between them planned a once-in-a-lifetime football, education and culture tour with help from five schools in total.

“We haven’t just plucked them off the streets and brought them over here,” said Lucinda, who planned the trip for 20 months. “I have dealt with the British Ambassador in Mumbai, who has been brilliant, and we bought flights before we knew if we had visas and passports.

And I’ve hugged every mother and told them we will take the greatest of care with their boys.”

Nathaniel, best known as Inspector Lynley in the BBC TV series The Inspector Lynley Mysteries and who lives nearby, paid tribute to Lucinda’s hard work in bringing the touring party to the UK.“They are having a great time and that’s down to Lucinda and Ashok, and we’re delighted they are here,” he said. “The next step would be to bring a girls team over – why not?”

The match finished 2-1 to the Oscar Foundation team, who equalised only seconds after Beaudesert took the lead in the firsthalf. In the second half, the Oscar Foundation team scored again, to make it 2-1 and remain undefeated on tour.

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