‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’*
Many women would aspire to be Wives and Girlfriends of footballers, but this summer we’ve had the privilege to be the full English family to three wonderful boys from humble homes in South Mumbai, India. These delightful youngsters, Sunil Mohan Rathod, Sunil Tulsiram Rathod and Sitaram Nehru Rathod (left to right), all with the same surname though unrelated, were personally chosen by Queen’s Park Rangers FC as the winners of the South Mumbai Junior Soccer Challenge.
And the prize for this competition from QPR? ‘As for the winners, they can now look forward to an unforgettable trip to west London later this season, when the trio will spend two weeks with the R’s Academy, including a visit to Harlington to meet the First Team before watching a live Premier League match at Loftus Road.’ not forgetting two weeks stay at West London’s Hen Corner!
QPR asked us as a family to host them for a fortnight whilst they were training here in London and we were really pleased to partner with them. I ensured that our largest bedroom was prepared with three matching beds for our special guests and began to plan meals that would include new tastes for the boys without being too unfamiliar. Fortunately their English was really good, as none of us speak Hindi, and our own children, James and Macy, learnt more about their backgrounds, homes and school life in India as they welcomed them to join in their games and activities. We soon settled into family life with 5 teenagers at home, which wasn’t a quiet experience, although the boys explained that Mumbai was so much more noisy, especially with the constant car horns that accompanied every vehicle on the streets.
The competition that they had won is really quite significant as Milind Deora (former South Mumbai Member of Parliament) chief patron of the challenge explained, ‘These three most talented kids from south Mumbai, coming from most unassuming schools are the winners amongst 6000 children who participated in the soccer championship.’ The opportunity to welcome these talented boys into our home, that happened to coincide with the BBC’s Indian Season, was a delight, a revelation and lots of fun. We took the opportunity to get to know each of them over English traditions of fish and chips, walks along the Thames and a roast chicken dinner followed by apple crumble.
Chris Ramsey (Head Coach of QPR) went on to explain that “The uniqueness of this event is the fact that the participating schools included municipal schools, government-aided schools and private schools, making it one of the largest community football events in India”. As this was a fully inclusive competition, anyone could have won be that the child of a Bollywood star, a politician or a seamstress. It was purely coincidental that these three already knew each other as they came from the same community and had mutual friends and, judging from their Facebook posts, I think they had a great time here in London. Between QPR FC and ourselves I think we fed them pretty well, the QPR coaches told me that they’d heard all about my chicken biryani and this picture shows my attempt at chapati dhal, their favourite dish from home, which fortunately went down well with the whole household…
I know this is not a usual blog post, but the experience has had such a positive impact on our family that we wanted to share it, it also explains to local friends why we were special guests in the Directors Box at QPR FC Loftus Road recently and why a QPR minibus has been driving past Griffin Park to stop our home most mornings!
We had a great time with our Summer School, but now harvest is here it’s time for Pick and Pickle on 16th & 18th September, Fruit Wines and Liqueurs on 22nd September and Simply Sausages starting next month.
- Hen Corner is now on TripAdvisor! If you’ve ever been to visit or have tasted our produce, please do give us a review…
- Our Schools Programme has been nominated for the Urban Food Awards – New Shoots Food Guru looking for a person showing passion and brilliance in passing on cooking or food growing skills to children and other young people
- We have confirmed our demonstrations for the Lifestyle Theatre at the Country Living Christmas Fair, we’ll be making Christmas Puddings and Hampers at the Business Design Centre, Islington in November
Jobs for this week:
- Prepare for a big corporate event – Bee Keeping for BEARs (all will be revealed later)
- Extract the last of this year’s honey harvest and treat the bees for varroa
- Keep an eye on those boy chicks, they are nice and quiet at the moment – but they will start to crow one day!
Join us on the Journey!