More Than Football Award 2023 Longlist: The Legia Foundation – #ReadyToHelp Refugees from Ukraine
The European Football for Development Network (EFDN) is proud to present The Legia Foundation – #ReadyToHelp Refugees from Ukraine project, which has been selected for the longlist of the More Than Football Award 2023.
24th of February 2022 was a day that changed dynamics and shifted the focus from previous projects to the war in Ukraine. As the border country, Poland has witnessed a massive inflow of refugees from day one, and the Poles’ sense of duty felt the necessity to help citizens that were unable to leave their homes and country. On the second day of the war, Legia Foundation, social arm of Legia Warsaw, opened a collection point at the stadium to gather necessary goods and items to send in humanitarian transport to Lviv. Unfortunately, with the war not coming to an end, Legia Foundation knew that a stronger and complex form of help was needed to give the people seeking safety and peace in Warsaw, what they are hoping to find. From this, #ReadyToHelp Refugees from Ukraine came to life.
MAIN PROJECT OBJECTIVES
- Providing first need support to Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw
- Equipping citizens that stayed in Ukraine with basic and more advanced products that will allow them to survive
- Raising awareness about the war, reasons of it and need for help while giving international entities a platform and way of helping
- Providing pieces of normality to children and mothers who were forced to flee their country
- Not leaving anyone in need on their own
The Legia Foundation’s #ReadyToHelp Refugees from Ukraine project has made significant impact throughout the past year and continues to do so. Through many organisations and initiatives, the foundation was able to donate essential items and necessities to refugees, providing them with as much safety and comfort as possible. Through the collaboration of the foundation, club and players such as Mateusz Wieteska and Benjamin Verbic, a collection point was organised allowing anyone willing to donate, to participate as well. Social media played a crucial role in spreading the word as it enabled the cooperation with Shakhtar Social and Shakhtar Donieck. This made the distribution of collected goods to a shelter in Lviv Arena, and refugees in Warsaw possible, with the assurance that all donations reached those in need.
The project extended beyond the collection point as the foundation continued by working alongside other non-governmental organisations. The Legia Foundation played a vital role in evacuating children from an orphanage in Kiev, to Polish child care systems, providing them with support and safe passage. Additionally, a collaboration with Legia Warsaw allowed for the realisation of the “Match for Peace” game, focused on raising funds for internal refugees. One of the highlights of this event was the significant amount of Ukrainians, with over 20 000 attending and contributing, reflecting the influx of refugees in Warsaw and Poland.
Another initiative is that an educational-integration point was established within the stadium, providing a safe space for children and their mothers to acclimate to the new country. Football training, summer camps, dance classes and numerous activities are hold, promoting integration and expanding the horizons of the young individuals. Legia Foundation also aided the relocation of the Ukrainian youth rowing team to Germany. Realised with the collaboration of rowers, and Olympians such as Olena Buriak, the foundation ensured and provided a safe, and calm environment for the teams and their coaches to rest. Furthermore, the foundation took part in the SCORT foundation project, in order to be able to equip their own staff and personnel that are working with Ukrainian children, with skills that will come in handy and make the adjusting process easier.
As an entity close to Ukraine, the collaboration with Shakhtar Donieck and EFDN, Legia foundation became a European hub for all the clubs that wanted to help but to due to the distance were unable to. As a result, Legia Warsaw stadium saw dozens of packages arriving from all around Europe, and sent another 4 humanitarian transports to Lviv Arena.
#ReadyToHelp Refugees from Ukraine is far from being finished, the aim is for the project is to last as long as it is needed. War is not over, people are still in desperate need of help and are still being forced to leave their home country. Each week, Warsaw welcomes an average of 7 thousands refugees who are lost and need support. As the name of the project says, Legia Foundation is #ReadToHelp Refugees from Ukraine and will be as long as needed.