The Countess of Wessex has revealed she is "thrilled" to have been given a new role as royal patron of OSCAR International.
It works with the OSCAR foundation in Mumbai to help girls and boys from underprivileged communities, using the power of football to teach the importance of education and equipping young people with the tools they need to fight poverty for the next generation.
Sophie previously hosted the OSCAR Under 17 #kicklikeagirl football team for a curry lunch in her Surrey home, and accompanied the girls on a private tour of Windsor Castle in 2018.
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WATCH: The Countess of Wessex becomes royal patron of OSCAR International
And in 2019, she supported the touring OSCAR U17 boys' football team against Eton College and later visited the Ambedkar Nagar community in Mumbai, home of OSCAR's founder, Ashok Rathod.
On taking on the role of patron, mum-of-two Sophie said: "I am thrilled to have taken on this role and it's me that should give thanks to you for asking me. It's an enormous privilege to be working with such an amazing foundation. My visit to India was so important to see where you're actually working with the boys and the girls and to see the working conditions and also the living conditions."
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Sophie during her call with Ashok and Lucinda from OSCAR International
Lucinda Sowerbutts, Head of OSCAR International, said: "It is with enormous pride we announce the patronage of HRH The Countess of Wessex. Over the years, The Countess's support has given OSCAR girls and boys something to be proud of. She inspires OSCAR beneficiaries to stay in education, to believe in their dreams and work for a better, brighter future.
"Knowing they are in Her Royal Highness's thoughts makes not just the OSCAR children, but their parents, siblings and wider community feel valued. It motivates and empowers them to speak out for their right to an education."
The Countess visited Ashok's home community in Mumbai in 2019
OSCAR was founded by Ashok Rathod, in 2006 aged 18. Born and brought up in the Ambedkar Nagar slum in Mumbai, he had a difficult life but was fortunate his parents sent him to school. An education gave Ashok the chance to create a better life, whilst many of his friends fell into crime, addiction and early marriage.
Ashok was determined to do something to stop the destructive poverty cycle. He set up OSCAR with 18 school drop-outs, teaching them football and patiently waiting for his moment to introduce the concept of going to school. Today OSCAR engages over 3,000 girls and boys.
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