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Schooling meets soccer in Mumbai’s slums

India is a country of cricket-lovers, so can soccer catch on?

Ashok Rathod is convinced that soccer is the best way to give kids growing up in the slums a second lease on life. Teamwork, leadership, respect and communication come out of the game for 22 players.

Having grown up in a Mumbai slum himself, Ashok knows exactly which problem the kids there face. Many start drinking and gambling as young as 10, he says, then get married early and drop out of school.

Committed to make a difference, Ashok founded the Oscar Foundation in 2006. The team organizes soccer practices and matches for young people – but also provides an education program aimed at giving school drop-outs basic literacy skills.

Listen to the report by Sanjay Fernandes in Mumbai:

It was a challenge convincing parents to let their girls play soccer (Photo: S. Fernandes)

It was a challenge convincing parents to let their girls play soccer (Photo: S. Fernandes)

Suraj (right) is Oscar's associate director and Kumar (left) participated in the Oscar program and now works as a coach (Photo: S. Fernandes)

Suraj (right) is Oscar’s associate director and Kumar (left) participated in the Oscar program and now works as a coach (Photo: S. Fernandes)

The Oscar Foundation focuses not only on soccer - but also on education programs (Photo: S. Fernandes)

The Oscar Foundation focuses not only on soccer – but also on education programs (Photo: S. Fernandes)

Ashok Rathod knows first-hand what it's like to grow up in a Mumbai slum (Photo: S. Fernandes)

Ashok Rathod knows first-hand what it’s like to grow up in a Mumbai slum (Photo: S. Fernandes)

 

First published on February 26, 2014.

Date

Tuesday 02.09.2014 | 12:10

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