Support for Ukraine: Sport for development
The URL has been copied
The URL has been copied
As the war in Ukraine continues, many organisations using sport for development have stepped in to help those affected.

This article focuses on initiatives by actors using sport for development as part of a three-part article series – the other two articles focus on sporting clubs and federations and sportspersons.

When Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the aggression was widely condemned, including by many in the sports world. The invasion led to sanctions against Russia and Belarus and many sports bodies moved to boycott Russia and Belarus from participating and competing in their events and competitions.

With the war continuing into its second month, experts suggest that more than 10 million Ukrainians have fled their homes, of which 4.3 million have left for neighbouring countries and 6.5 million have been displaced within Ukraine.

Many have come forward to support Ukraine and Ukrainians displaced from their homes. Here are some initiatives by sport for development organisations to support those affected.

NB: Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and we recognise the situation is fluid and changing by the day. We welcome sport for development actors supporting those affected by the war to share their efforts with sportanddev (see information at the end of the article).

Laureus fund to help victims of the war

The new ‘Laureus Sport for Peace Humanitarian Action Fund’ will support on-ground agencies in Ukraine in providing food, water, medicine, hygiene kits, shelter and safe spaces. Further support will also be provided to those that have fled the war and made their way to neighbouring countries. The fund is part of the ‘Play Your Part’ campaign, launched by Laureus ambassador Andriy Shevchenko, who captained and later managed the Ukraine national football team.

Common Goal fund for emergency response and long-term support

Calling on the world of football to work together to support Ukraine, Common Goal (formerly known as streetfootballworld) is asking its network of organisations, players, brands and other stakeholders to contribute to their fund to provide immediate assistance as well as long-term support to those affected by the war. Apart from donations, Common Goal is asking people to take a stand and use their platform to amplify the initiative.

Beyond Sport appeals on behalf of its partners
Beyond Sport has called on its network to support two of its partners – the League of Tolerance (LOFT), based in Ukraine, and Fundacja dla Wolności ("Foundation for Freedom"), based in Poland. LOFT, which uses sport to unite young people in Poland, has already helped 127 families and 73 individuals (500+ people) get to safety and resettle. Foundation for Freedom, which has been using sport for the inclusion of asylum seekers through sport since 2005, has been providing Ukrainian asylum seekers in Poland with medical care, legal assistance and shelter.

UNHCR and WFP launch #Football4Ukraine campaign

Alphonso Davies, Mahmoud Dahoud, Asmir Begovic, Lucy Bronze, Ada Hegerberg and Juan Mata have called on fans to donate towards the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and World Food Programme (WFP)’s donation fund towards relief efforts in Ukraine. The #football4ukraine campaign appeals to people around the world, whoever they are, wherever they are, whatever club they support, to stand together as one team and support Ukraine.

To ensure donations have the greatest impact for people affected by the emergency in Ukraine, they will be allocated to the two organizations to provide food, shelter, psychosocial support, financial assistance and other life-saving aid.  

ITTF Foundation activates their Emergency Relief Fund

The entire International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Group has mobilised to support the Ukrainian table tennis community, including the ITTF Foundation, which is leading the efforts. The ITTF Foundation’s Emergency Relief Fund has been offered to those affected by the situation, and several member associations have offered financial and other support to Ukrainian refugees.

The Federation has also launched a new fundraising campaign, with Spanish player Galia Dvorak serving as a Goodwill Ambassador.

IAF launches Ukraine Fund for professional athletes
Along with the World Athletics, the International Athletics Foundation (IAF) and members of the Diamond League Association launched a Ukraine Fund, aimed at supporting professional athletes affected by conflict in Ukraine. The fund would ensure that elite Ukrainian athletes can continue their training and participate in the World Championships.

NB: We recognise the distinction between ‘sport for development’ actors, ‘sports clubs and federations’ and ‘sportspersons’ is not always clear and there are significant overlaps – we have chosen this division (even if artificial) simply to streamline the range of initiatives. We also recognise that there are many more types of actors/organisations providing support.


Know any other sport for development organisations helping Ukrainians in need? Write to us at [email protected]. See our article guidelines here