On Tuesday, Cheltenham College welcomed fifteen 11-13 year olds from the OSCAR Foundation, a charity from India set-up to support and mentor children from slum communities by teaching them the value of education using football as a tool. The lucky squad was selected from over 3,000 children back in India, and Cheltenham College (and other local schools) sponsored their UK football tour, where they will visit and play against schools and clubs that have sponsored the trip, as well as visiting London and the Manchester United and Chelsea stadiums before flying home.
The OSCAR children took part in a skills workshop with Cheltenham Town Football Club's captain Aaron Downes. 'Downesy' was on hand to meet the children, chat with their coaches and put them through their paces with a fun training session along with pupils from Cheltenham College, before the children played a match against pupils of their own age at Cheltenham Prep, with the touring side winning 1-0.
Mr Nick Nelson, Director of Internationalism and Culture at the school, who last year organised a fundraising ‘World Cup’ tournament to help bring the OSCAR children to England, commented "Aaron was fantastic with the children. They were in awe to meet him and he was a real gentleman. It was very kind of him to take the time to come and support such a great cause before their match in the evening. Thank you, Aaron!"
Mr Nelson was inspired to sponsor the charity after the founder, Ashok Rathod, spoke to Cheltenham College pupils last year about his own journey from the slums of Mumbai to becoming the founder and director of an international charity. The visiting children also had a tour of both the prep and senior schools, and took part in music and art lessons before the training session with the Robins' captain.