Arsenal’s Ukrainian footballer, Oleksandr Zinchenko, has taken on a noble cause, embarking on a mission to raise funds for a Ukrainian school ravaged by war.
A visit to his homeland revealed the unsettling reality of a crisis, sparking a surge of compassion and a determination to make a difference.
- Oleksandr Zinchenko is spearheading a project to rebuild a war-ravaged school in his homeland, Ukraine.
- Alongside Andrei Shevchenko, Zinchenko will raise funds through a charity football match, Game4Ukraine.
- The Arsenal player’s efforts underscore the plight of children in war-torn regions and the necessity of restoring education facilities.
On a mission to rebuild a Ukrainian school destroyed in the ongoing conflict, Zinchenko is showing the world a different side of football stars.
Zinchenko’s initiative comes after he visited Ukraine in May 2022, his first trip since the war outbreak.
During his visit, he witnessed the wreckage of the Mykhailo-Kotsiubynsky establishment in Chernihiv, a tragic scene that shook him profoundly.
The establishment was hit by a rocket attack on March 4, leading to the death of a 62-year-old housekeeper.
Zinchenko noted the distinct change in the air, telling AFP, “Even the air no longer smelled the same.”
The Game4Ukraine initiative
To assist in the recovery, Zinchenko has teamed up with Ukrainian football legend Andrei Shevchenko.
The duo, in partnership with the charity platform United24, are organising a Game4Ukraine football match at Chelsea on August 5.
The event aims to raise funds for the school, with reconstruction costs estimated at €1.54m.
Zinchenko revealed that the conflict had damaged about 800 schools, more than 200 of which could not be rebuilt.
Despite not having any particular connection to the destroyed school, which is used by 10 cities, Zinchenko and Shevchenko’s initiative was met with deep appreciation.
The school’s director, Mr. Shpak, expressed immense gratitude for their efforts, stating that it had given them hope. He poignantly mentioned the joy the two players brought by playing football with the school children on a pitch destroyed by missiles.
“I feel what a person can feel when they receive hope”, he said. “And of course, this hope is great when it is aroused by people like these two. I have was even more hopeful when they played football with our boys and girls on the pitch which was destroyed by the missiles”.
As the Arsenal player continued to share his experience and sentiments about the crisis in his homeland, he made it clear that he could not comprehend the Russian invasion. The war’s devastating impact on familiar landscapes and the loss of lives remains a painful reality for Zinchenko.
In an emotional statement, Zinchenko expressed hope that when his children ask what he did during the war, he could recount his efforts to help.
“When you are born and raised in a land where you know every stone and every tree and one day someone comes from somewhere else and can do whatever they want, kill women, men, children and destroying everything around, it’s absolutely incredible ,” he said.
“I hope that if my children ever ask me ‘Dad, what did you do during this time, how did you help?’ my best ,” Zinchenko added.
With his commitment to aiding his homeland, Zinchenko is proving that he is more than just a footballer—he’s a beacon of hope in times of despair.