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Olsson’s India diary: part one

28 May 2016

The first instalment from Jonas’ Delhi adventure

Hi everyone! Namaste.

I’d heard a lot about the Club’s project in India before I arrived here on Friday morning. I first asked to come out here over 12 months ago but it has not been possible until now.

Within a couple of hours of landing I experienced my first visit to a slum. It was quite shocking. It doesn’t matter how many documentaries or news reports you watch, nothing can prepare you for it. 

We visited the children at Bapu School in the Bhagwanpura area of Delhi. The children we visited have very little. Their shoes – if they have them – are well worn. 

They live difficult lives and face a number of challenges every day. Where their next meal is coming from is not always clear. I spent a couple of hours with them and they seemed to really enjoy my visit – but I think it will have a greater long-term impact on me. 

It was humbling to be in their company. Football seemed trivial in their circumstances. They live on streets with open sewers, little access to clean water, and an alarming shortage of toilets. They have no healthcare insurance and live in an area where the most common job is rag picking. 

So to be there to play football with the children was a little odd. I wish I could have fixed all of their other problems but I’m a footballer not a politician so play football we did.

The Club’s ‘Pass It Forward’ programme will see coaches visit over 1,000 schools in Delhi. The football is key to keeping the children on the right path. Football is the driver and I really think it can be used positively to force social change. I believe it can help the young children here dream of a brighter future. I really hope it does.

We have plenty planned over the next few days and it will all be a fantastic experience I’m sure – but I know the memories I have from my first day in India will live with me forever.

Jonas

The ‘Pass It Forward’ programme would not be possible without the experience, knowledge and generosity of The University of Wolverhampton, Youth Football International (YFI), Delhi State Government, Delhi Dynamos and The Albion Foundation.


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