Everton’s Under-19s squad enjoyed an engaging evening with the Oscar Foundation, a community-based Sports for Development organisation in Mumbai.
The Oscar Foundation uses the power of football to encourage children to stay in school and equips them with the skills needed to be resilient and future ready.
Through their football, education and young leader programmes they have empowered over 14,000 children and youth in low-income communities of India since 2010.
On Wednesday, Everton’s players and staff visited their base at the Father Agnel Sports Centre for a specially organised session with young people aged 15-18 that the Foundation regularly works with.
This started with fun-based football games lead by qualified coaches from India On Track before our players had the chance to work on their cricketing skills, inspired by watching the Mumbai Indians in the IPL last weekend.
The visit finished with a Q&A, giving the young people the chance to learn more about life as a footballer both on and off the pitch.
Speaking about the trip, Everton Under-18 assistant manager Kieran Driscoll said: “It’s brilliant and I think it is a fantastic initiative. We have obviously come over here to take part in a football tournament, but we really wanted to embrace the cultural side of things and give a little bit back to the local community.
“Seeing the smiles on the young people's faces because we have been part of their programme has been really fulfilling.”
It’s a been a busy itinerary for the group in India, with four games in nine days and another trip to Dharavi, a suburb of Mumbai regarded as one of the largest slums in Asia.
Everton Under-18s midfielder Callum Bates said of the experience: “It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable trip because it’s been such a learning experience - from visiting the Dharavira slums last week to attending an Indian Premier League game and then meeting youngsters who benefit from the incredible work of the OSCAR Foundation in the local community.
“The tour has made me value and appreciate what I have in life and how fortunate I am to have such incredible facilities at my disposal at Finch Farm.”
Head of Academy Education and Player Care Chris Adamson added: “The visit to the OSCAR Foundation was a great experience for the boys. It was the kind of thing that we wanted to do when we were looking at coming over here and I have to say the boys were fantastic.
What crossed my mind was the similarity to some of the work that Everton in the Community do in the local area back home. There were smiles on the faces of the kids as they played football and cricket so we have come away from that with a great feeling, but it was also also quite humbling to hear about the challenges those kids face in their lives.”