Mumbai’s first football project for disabled kids kicks off!
Football fever is set to spike in Mumbai, with OSCAR Foundation in partnership with Everton and the Premier League kicking off the city’s first football project for children with all kinds of disabilities. The Premier League is the top level of the English football league system, while Everton is a football club in Liverpool.
The project is backed by the International Development Fund started by Premier League and Streetfootballworld, which is a well-known global ‘Football for Development’ charity.
The football project in Mumbai is under the leadership of Ashok Rathod, Founder OSCAR Foundation and will benefit 30 young coaches and reach out to 100 children and youth with disabilities.
Rathod, who brings with him decades of experience as a football coach, is a strong believer in using sports as a change maker. Through his foundation, he has reached out to thousands of marginalized kids, using football.
One of the Young Leaders, who is part of the foundation, was very inspired to work with disabled children after he went to South Korea on a project. We have no experience working with disabled children so we got trained by Everton for a period of one week in Mumbai. – Ashok Rathod, Founder, OSCAR Foundation
Everton, which has a Football for Disabled program, trained the 28 coaches in Mumbai, at the end of which a football festival was held.
“The OSCAR Foundation does very similar community work to Everton in the community, so there is a lot of synergy between the two organisations,” felt Everton’s Community’s Disability Coach, Steve Johnson. “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.”
The first set of sessions will reach out to 50 disabled children, boys and girls, at the Ability School, in Thane outside Mumbai. After that, OSCAR Foundation plans to start classes in a blind school. The classes will be for free. “There is a lot of interest in para sports and children can learn so much from this program,” says Meetal Hoshing, Principal, Ability School. “We plan to start the classes once the Diwali vacations are over.”
Many parents have welcomed the idea as well, which has encouraged Rathod greatly. “At the festival, we invited parents of many disabled kids and they were supportive. We have asked them to spread the word. India has many disabled children and we want to reach out to as many as possible.”The project aims to hold inclusive football sessions on a regular basis as well as a yearly football festival to promote inclusion and equality.