Former player establishes charity project in India
FANS’ favourite Jonas Olsson has committed to help some of India’s poorest children by establishing a charity in his name.
And he is appealing to the Baggies faithful for one more show of support to help him with a unique kit amnesty.
The Jonas Olsson Foundation will work alongside leading Delhi-based charity, Breathe Easy India, to improve living conditions for pupils at the Bapu School in Bhagwanpura slum.
The former Albion defender visited the school in May 2016 to help launch Breathe Easy’s ‘Football for Health’ programme.
The children at the slum school soon touched the heart of the former Sweden international and discussions with West Bromwich Albion and its official charity partner, The Albion Foundation, were soon focussed on assisting their plight.
The Jonas Olsson Foundation will use football and education as a vehicle to help improve living standards in the slum, while also ensuring the children are healthy, happy and safe.
Regular medical examinations and nutritious meals will be provided alongside football coaching sessions at a safe local sports facility.
The 34-year-old left The Hawthorns last week after a nine-year stay to join top-flight Swedish side Djurgården IF.
But Olsson plans to stay involved with the club and has turned to the Baggies family to join in with a kit amnesty – a chance for fans to donate shirts, shorts, boots and any other children’s football equpment to the Bapu School.
From Monday supporters are invited to donate unwanted children’s kit at banks located in the Club’s Ticket Office, Stadium Megastore and Merry Hill Club Shop. There will also be a drop-off point in the Fanzone prior to next Saturday’s game against Southampton.
Olsson said: “As soon as I visited Bapu School I knew I would not be able to rest until I had done something significant to help the children there.
“We are not naïve and know that their problems cannot be solved overnight.
“Football is the driving force for the programme and will be the focus around which we implement a number of social projects, however, their needs are great and we know that sport alone will not assist them in their day-to-day lives.
“Sanitation, healthcare and nutrition are areas we are fully focussed on improving.
“We have already seen that football sessions are proving popular with the children and sessions have increased in size from 30 to 60 children.
“The kit amnesty enables supporters to be a part of this, to feel proud that they have contributed something.
“During the football sessions I noticed the kids were wearing really terrible shoes. Mismatching, the wrong size, or completely destroyed, not one child had appropriate footwear. I hope there are Albion fans out there who can help with that.
“We’d also like to send old shirts for the children. It would be really something to see 60 children running through the slum in blue-and-white stripes, knowing that there is a group of people a few thousand miles away that care about them.
“This is going to be one hell of a journey Baggies fans and I need your help.”
Breathe Easy Founder, Aanchal Bathia, added: “Jonas was a gentleman during his visit to Delhi last May.
“The children immediately took him to their hearts and we are all delighted that Jonas will feature in their futures.
“Slum kids have very little to look forward to but Jonas’ financial and emotional commitment means they now have football to focus their minds.
“But it is much more than that - in addition to football, and with Jonas’ support, we are able to provide them with healthcare, education and nutritious meals.
“We look forward to welcoming Jonas back to Delhi later this year, at which time he will be able to witness with his own eyes the impact he has had on the children at Bapu School.
“I would like to again thank Jonas for his support over the past few months. Now the world knows about his fantastic work we hope others will join us in assisting him.”