The Countess of Wessex has taken on a new role supporting learning for children living in some of the most deprived parts of India.
Sophie is now patron of the OSCAR Foundation which uses football to help provide education for the youngsters.
As Buckingham Palace announced the role on October 1st 2021, the Countess was seen taking part in a discussion with the organisation’s founder as well as some of the children who have already been helped by the group’s work. Sophie had previously met all of them during a visit to Mumbai in 2019.
Speaking to Ashok Rathod, who established the Foundation, she said ”we know that if you allow education to thrive amongst communities, then it lifts them and it gives them opportunities where they may not have otherwise existed.”
The Countess also heard from pupils about how the OSCAR Foundation supported them during the toughest parts of the pandemic. They told her ”during lockdown, college was not open, school was not open, only online classes and online things were going on. It was very difficult to continue online studies from one phone. Oscar tried to fill the gap where they can help.”
Announcing the patronage, the Foundation paid tribute to Sophie’s work with the young people it helps, continuing ‘HRH’s support, kindness and gentle manner motivates them to attend school and empowers girls to fight for their right to an education.”
Ashok told her ”what you have done for OSCAR Foundation, it’s incredible, and we are very pleased and very grateful to have you in the OSCAR family,” with Sophie telling him that “it’s me that should give thanks to you for asking me. It’s an enormous privilege to work with such an amazing foundation. My visit to India was so important to see where you’re actually working with the boys and girls and to see the working and living conditions.”
The OSCAR Foundation works with children from underprivileged communities and uses football to teach them about the importance of education. It also aims to provide them with the skills and capabilities they need to stamp out poverty for future generations. It was set up by Ashok Rathod in 2006, when he was 18, after he realised the power education had given him to help others. From its first outreach, which gave support to 18 children, it now helps around 3,000 girls and boys.