Royal Patron: HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh GCVO
My incredible journey from a Mumbai slum to the FIFA World Cup

My name is Umesh, I am 18 years old. I am an OSCAR Foundation beneficiary and Youth Ambassador of Generation Amazing. I am a student and football player and live in a tiny house with my family in Cuffe Parade, Mumbai. In 2019 I was selected for the OSCAR UK School Tour organised by Lucinda Ma’am. The two-week tour changed my life. I now owned a passport, had travelled outside India, made many new friends, learned a lot, increased my confidence and had the courage to believe in my dreams and aim big. The UK tour and all the schools we visited helped me see a world beyond my community. 

But there is more…

In 2019 I met football legend, Xavi Hernandez! It was an unbelievable moment for me. I had never thought someone like me would meet him.  I didn’t know Xavi was going to meet me until the day itself. He met me in my community, I was completely stunned. I couldn’t believe it, It was he, the real Xavi! Barcelona legend and World Cup winner and one of the all-time best midfielder in the world is with me. Wow! So, the most beautiful day of my life begins with Xavi! 

He visited my house and met my family. I showed him my trophies and introduced him to my community members. Everyone was so proud of me and they couldn’t believe Xavi was with us in our community. You can watch Generation Amazing’s film of Xavi’s visit here.

That day was full of surprises and happy moments and for my family it was a really, really proud moment. We played football together and had lots of talks and shared memories with each other. He really understood my life and talked about his own childhood.

Then I was back to my normal life. I focused on my studies and football. The journey from 2019 to 2022 was really awesome. I had experienced a life changing trip to the UK and had met my hero, Xavi. I was always reliving those wonderful moments which gave me the determination to improve my life, to create more opportunities and make my family proud. 

In 2022 November I got a call from our lovely Ashok sir, the founder of OSCAR Foundation and the person behind everything. Ashok sir informed me, “Umesh you have been invited to FIFA World in Qatar by Generation Amazing and FIFA.” What?

When I heard the news I couldn’t express my feelings. I was so happy to travel again and excited to make new memories. But everything wasn’t so happy when I realised my passport had expired. That was heart breaking because I always dreamed of going to the world cup. My OSCAR family kept my hopes alive and Sunita Ma’am & Arvind sir managed to renew my passport and get a visa. 

So, my journey begins from the slums of Mumbai to FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

The happiest person was my father. He dropped me at the airport and said “make me proud my dear son.”

It was just the start of three perfect days in Qatar.  I was so excited for it. I couldn’t wait to see Xavi again. When we met in Mumbai it was the best moment of my life and now me, Umesh, a boy from a slum, would meet him again. I was very happy to see him again, to talk about my goals and ambitions and I also met his friend Tim Cahill (Australian football legend). Xavi gave me match tickets for the Spain vs Germany match. This bought more joy and happiness because I was supporting Spain.

When I entered in the Stadium, I experienced a different vibe and different cultures, such feelings I have never experienced. The energy was electric. I felt like I was dreaming.

Thank you, OSCAR, Generation Amazing and FIFA for giving me such unbelievable opportunities. This means a lot to me and I promise you all that I whatever I have learnt through this journey I will pass (#PassItOn) it on and to continue to work hard to make you all proud of me. I am excited about my journey with GMSC, where my teammates call me ‘Xavi Boy’ and I am looking forward to the OSCAR Young Leader Programme and learning how to mentor girls and boys in my community.

#passion #educationwithakick #GA4Good #Football4Development #PassItOn

Xavi and Umesh Reunited in Qatar
Generation Amazing!
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