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Imagine a world full of full of noise, full of disruption and full of fear.

This is the world for millions of children across Ukraine, as the war against Russia entered its third year.

 

Sir Bobby Charlton was a champion of children, of youth, of making a difference to people’s lives, and of course of football. Working as an ambassador for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation also engendered in Bobby a deeper understanding of struggle, of inequality of opportunity, and, significantly, of conflict. Visiting Cambodia with Laureus, he bore witness to the tragedy of war: children with lost limbs simply because they went out to play football, just as he and his brothers had done. But the fields of Cambodia are a world apart from the streets of Ashington: these kids had touched or trodden on a hidden landmine, and their lives were changed forever.

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Sir Bobby started his charity to help make a difference to lives affected by conflict. We are proud to announce our partnership with FC Shakhtar’s ‘United Together’ project in war-stricken Ukraine to give Ukrainian children the chance to play football safely, and to forget for a short time the trauma of war.

Three times a week, boys and girls aged 7 to 12, including children with disabilities aged 7 to 17, come together in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia, for a football session with a coach and volunteers. For a precious hour, they are immersed in physical exercise, fun games and training to hone their football skills, finishing with a game.

Missile attacks and air raid alarms are a daily occurrence in the cities of Ukraine, including in Zaporizhzhia where earlier this year Russian missiles killed and injured, and homes and buildings were damaged. The incessant threat of danger is relentless here, but thanks to Shakhtar Social, in collaboration with local institutions, these sessions bring a sense of normalcy and joy to the children, fostering a sense of community, teamwork and resilience, and most importantly giving them a chance to have fun and be children.

The Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation funding makes this possible. We fund the coaches, pitches, kits and balls, and also on-site psychologists to work with groups of children to support their integration and socialisation in this new environment, helping them cope with their fear, stress, trauma and often their displacement. In the coming year, we will also fund a ‘family day’ to involve parents or carers in the activities with their children, and two tournaments enabling all participants to celebrate their achievements together.

Sir Bobby Charlton loved being with young people, seeing them laughing together, playing football together, and having fun together. We bring his spirit to life in partnering with FC Shakhtar, uniting our shared values, and improving the lives of some of the young people in Zaporizhzhia through football.

Please help us grow the work of the Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation in Ukraine by donating:

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