Shevchenko: support mental health and wellbeing of refugee children


Laureus Ambassador and Ukrainian football legend Andriy Shevchenko pays emotional visit to Ukrainian refugee children in Warsaw


‘These children escaped physical harm – now we need to protect their mental health’ – Shevchenko turns focus to millions of child refugees from war in Ukraine
For Andriy Shevchenko, a weekend in Poland had two objectives: to meet the world’s best tennis player as she continues to support Ukraine; and to see in action a project that he is convinced can address a new danger in this conflict – the psychological effects of war on the millions of young Ukrainians who have experienced a trauma few of us can imagine.
It began in Krakow, where the former Ballon D’Or winner and Laureus Ambassador was the special guest of Iga Swiatek at the exhibition match she organised to raise funds for charities delivering relief and aid to Ukrainian children.
Shevchenko has dedicated himself to using his platform and place in the global sports community to maintain awareness around all aspects of the war in Ukraine as it enters its sixth month. In Swiatek he has found a new teammate, as the world No.1 wears a yellow-and-blue ribbon in her baseball cap every time she takes the court and met Shevchenko with one question: what more can I do?

She is so young – only 21 – and she is already doing so much

Andriy Shevchenko, Ukranian national coach and football legend
From Krakow to the Polish capital of Warsaw, where Shevchenko visited Ukrainian families who have been forced across the border by the war. Then, onto a session of a project called TeamUp, organised by WarChild and supported by Laureus and Save The Children.
TeamUp creates play sessions based on a largely non-verbal methodology, using physical exercise to release some of the stresses that the children carry with them.
“The method works,” said Shevchenko, who participated in two sessions with children. “Some of these children have seen bombs falling on their homes. They have lived underground; they have heard the sirens. They have lost members of their family. How can they forget these things? Sport, and this kind of activity, allows them to do that in this moment. To have a release, where the only focus is the next game.”
Shevchenko is no longer the star striker who was the darling of the San Siro, nor the national coach taking Ukraine to the last eight of the European Championship. In his young country’s darkest hour, he is using the power of sport to find a way back to the light.

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