A GROUP of 14 boys from the slums of Mumbai took on pupils from Beaudesert Park School in a football match on Tuesday, during a life-changing two-week tour of the UK.

The visitors are part of the OSCAR Foundation, a non-profit organisation that supports and mentors the most vulnerable young people in some of the most underprivileged areas of India.

Patron of the charity, Lucinda Sowerbutts, of Frampton Mansell, conceived and organised the tour, having met OSCAR founder Ashok Rathod two years ago while working in Mumbai.

The football, education and culture tour was designed to give the children a better understanding of how education and community involvement can provide them with alternatives to life on the street.

It is hoped that they will help spread this message when they get home, having all been selected specifically by Ashok due to their work ethic and commitment to education.

James Womersley, headmaster of Beaudesert Park School, said: “Being involved in helping make the OSCAR tour happen, and now hosting the children and the adults with them, has been very fulfilling and a lot of fun for us here at Beaudesert.

“Our own pupils, their parents and our staff have really got behind the fundraising and the planning that needed to happen to make the boys’ time with us here in Minchinhampton as rewarding and nurturing as possible.

“They have been a real pleasure to host. “We hope that when they go back to India they will be doing so with new-found enthusiasm for the value of education and happy memories to last a lifetime.”

Beaudesert is one of five UK schools which have been fundraising for 18 months to raise the funds to ensure this life-changing experience could come to fruition.

The tour is taking the boys, who are all under 14 years old, to London, Manchester, Gloucestershire, Surrey and Suffolk to visit all five schools and take on their football teams.

Whilst in the capital, they went on the London Eye, accompanied musical icon Elaine Paige to a West End performance of The Lion King, as well as visiting Windsor Park and Go Ape.

The grand finale is a visit to Manchester United FC on Thursday (October 12), where star midfielder Juan Mata will tour them around Old Trafford, before they fly home on Saturday.

Fundraising events at Beaudesert included The Big Beaudesert Dribble which was supported by England football legends, Tony Adams and David Seaman.

Pupils aged three-13, parents and staff gathered sponsors and donned trainers to dribble footballs the total 4,543 mile distance that lies between the Gloucestershire school and the OSCAR football team’s home in India.

Visit oscar-foundation.org for more on OSCAR.