OSCAR Foundation (Organization for Social Change, Awareness and Responsibility) is a non-profit organisation that, through football instils the value of education and empowers underprivileged children and youth with life skills to take responsibility of their community development.
OSCAR runs a unique programme that not only teaches the sport to children and youth but also helps them to understand the value of education.
Through football they give the kids the feeling of being included, love and friendship. These are mostly kids from the slums of Mumbai, and growing up in hard places can beat you down.
Their main objective is to prevent children and youths from dropping out of school. To discover, develop and nurture young talent. And to educate youth to become responsible citizens.
If the kids want to be a part of OSCAR they have to be in school.
Boys and Girls play together, equality is very important and one of the main objectives of the organisation.
After 12 years of operation, the community celebrates the kids being in the OSCAR initiative. Here is a group of moms supporting their kids in competition.
The sense of community and friendship is very apparent.
After the match team leaders sit down with the kids to have a conversation that goes something like this:
“Who had the ball most, girls or boys?”
”Did you think about including everyone in the game?”
”Did you show sportsmanship and respect?”
Kick Like a Girl.
I followed a group of 15 girls in the OSCAR U-17 team as they prepared for their trip to the UK as part of an initiative to bridge the two worlds and test themselves against UK teams, broadening their horizons and changing mindsets back home on the way
She lives with her family in the Cuffe Parade slum, it is estimated to have a population of around 400.000 people. Being very big, it is still not the biggest of the slums in Mumbai, it is not even half the size of Daravi, which has a population of more than a million people in an area of just over 2.1 square km.
She started playing football when she was in Class VI. “I had all the support from my family to play football. But there were some people in the locality who would tell my parents that they should not allow me to play because I am a girl. But my parents never paid any attention. They were always on my side,”
At home in Cuffe Parade community where she lives with here family.
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 and stay at home to cook and clean and are then married off at a young age.
The girls where the first ones from their community to own a passport, to travel in an airplane and in some cases the girls didn’t even have birth certificates.
The team Captain and an incredibly inspiring young woman.
When Priyanka was 11 years old her mother arranged to sell her to an older man to be married. Through OSCAR she got the courage to refuse her mothers efforts. And she is now on her track to play for Indias national team.
Or, by my estimate… Rule the world.
Eight of the players on the tour are from Ranchi in Jharkhand, the poorest state in India, while the other seven live in the slums of Mumbai.
Tinki is one of the girls from Ranchi, She recalls how she attracted her brother’s wrath and was beaten and locked up in the bathroom for playing football.
When she started out training she played barefoot wearing Kurtas, she now trains 160 girls under the age of 16 in her village.
Ashok Rathod, the founder of the OSCAR foundation, chanting the girls onward. He grew the foundation from a few kids playing football in the streets and back allies of Mumbais slums, into a huge organisation with hundreds of kids getting education and a much better life.
What an amazing human being.
Players starting from the top left:
(c) Priyanka, Aarti, Anita, Chhaya, Phoolkumari, Neha, Pooja, Mamta, Anshu
Neha, Atisha, Soniya, Komal, Tinki, Pushpa
“…Im less a doll and more of a tigress”
In the OSCAR Cuffe Parade Community Center the girls go over the game plans for the upcoming matches along with having fun and practice their dancing.
This was my favourite class. Here they learn how to grow together and build up their self esteem with guidance from this wonderful woman, Simi Viz, who is a professor from Mumbai University.
Growing up as a girl in the harsh surroundings of the Mumbai Slums can beat a person down and make them feel like there is no future. The girls write down compliments for one another on a piece of paper.
They read the letters aloud to each other, talking about how they are talented, smart, funny, kind and rock hard. Having an open conversation about friendship, about being independent, about being a girl, about kindness and ofcourse about football.
With some of the girls bursting into tears, you get the feeling that some of them never hear kind words like this being spoken about them.
It is in moments like this that you realise that this entire thing is not only about football, it is about everything else.
What an amazing group of girls!
The OSCAR foundation runs 3 educational projects.
The Computer project.
Provides children with the opportunity to learn basic computer skills and gives them an opportunity to learn in a creative manner.
The education project.
Provides tuition and extra classes in subjects like Hindi, English, Maths to help those children who are unable to perform well in their school.
The Scholarship project.
For those students whose parents are from economically low backgrounds who may not be able to fund their education at a higher level (10th, 12th and for graduation) These students show the desire and passion to study and OSCAR helps them fulfill this dream.