Jaaikaran's initiative of sending football kits to refugee camps for young children
Having seen the atrocities occurring in Ukraine, I was deeply concerned by the world’s response to the issue. This concern moved me to try and use my linguistic and cultural understanding as a 17-year-old. Initially, hearing the news about Hungary, Poland, and Romania accepting Ukrainian refugees filled me with a sense of relief; however, relief soon turned to responsibility as I strived to find ways to help these refugees. With football being one of my core passions, I decided to launch the #playforukraine initiative where I would send footballs and football kits to refugee camps. I play for Ukraine. Will you?
I launched this initiative in April 2022 , and am so excited to see it progress.
I have tied up with football manufacturers to produce this kit. Each kit consists of a football with the 'Made in Ukraine' logo, the football bag and a pump.
I have also sent the football vests to each camp and charity organisation for them to be able to organise friendly matches to keep their young kids happy, busy and spend time in a very relaxing manner.
With great pride, I'm so happy to announce that we have 200 kits that are ready and have been sent. These kits are on their way to
1) United Way
2) UNICEF Romania
3) VOICES for CHILDREN
4) CARITAS Poland.
These 200 kits have been divided equally and have been sent to these charity organizations that are listed above.
I look forward to receiving the feedback and thoughts of all the children who received these kits.
I have started a JustGiving page to raise funds for this initiative. It’s my request, to all family, friends and football clubs if they would like to participate and collaborate together. With larger participation, we can reach out and bring more happiness and joy to these children who have been affected by the conflict.
Donate to Changing the world one stepover at a time with #PlayForUkraine
We are raising money to Change the world one step over at a time with #PlayForUkraine Founded by Jaaikaran Chanana. Support this JustGiving Crowdfunding Page.
My mentor, a great inspiration, and a passionate icon. #SirAlexFerguson
Going down memory lane, here's a snapshot of when our Founder, @Jaaikaran felt ecstatic & grateful to have Sir Alex Ferguson be in the inspiration behind his passion.
Passion for football as a sport, strategy & management of football as a game & lastly, the passion to play football, is all because of Sir Alex Ferguson, a legendary football coach of this era!
Let’s stand for Ukraine, Let’s play for Ukraine
Having seen the atrocities being committed and the millions displaced by Putin’s senseless aggression started in late February 2022, I was deeply concerned about whether the West would take action. I was relieved when Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and many European countries chose to take in refugees, now numbering almost 7 million outside of Ukraine even as 7 million remain displaced within Ukraine.
At first, my actions were related to sending messages of solidarity to Ukrainians, but I soon realized that I could have a greater impact as a small charity. Football has been important for my mental health, physical well-being, and entertainment. It is also the world’s most popular sport with 265 million players around the world, many of which were among the nearly 2 million Ukrainian children fleeing Ukraine and 2.5 million internally displaced. I wanted to help those children through a means that gave me tremendous joy: football.
Incredibly motivated to make a positive difference, I launched #letsplayforukraine in May 2022. This initiative’s charitable purpose is to provide Ukrainian refugees with a message of hope and a football kit to help them find and regain a sense of joyful play. With the help of friends and family, we started donating football kits to Ukrainian refugees in Romania, Hungary, and Poland. Inside the kit, there is a #letsplayforukraine football, along with a pump, and a ball bag. Importantly, I wanted to include a personal message to the Ukrainian children where I ask that they use the kit “find the joy, happiness, and excitement that I have discovered by playing football”.
Though the initiative was initially funded by friends and family, I wanted to enact a greater change. In order to do so, whilst continuing to spread the message, I sought external funding. Many small charities struggle with raising enough funds to achieve financial sustainability and perform their services. In addition, much of the public has lost trust in charities as a whole; therefore, I needed to raise funds in a way that would be transparent, meet the costs to create the kits, and have enough scale.
Whilst I have learned about different organizational structures including charities, sole traders, and limited companies in my IB business course, I found out that setting up a charity in the UK is difficult and you must satisfy the regulations stated within the Charities Act. To that end, #letsplayforukraine needed a clear charitable purpose: The advancement of human rights through the provision of materials to perform the amateur sport.
Having navigated the legal requirements of charities and the strict requirements to launch campaigns on GoFundMe, I encountered operational issues which affect all charities. Sourcing the materials for the kits and sending them across borders for charitable purposes has often meant that there have been cumbersome customs and clearing issues. Moreover, I have met with issues in withdrawing funds from the GoFundMe platform which at times put the procurement of enough kits at risk. In addition, creating realistic budgets with contingency plans for setbacks has also been difficult. Within all of this has been the need to build a community of support, on both Instagram and Twitter, to allow new members to contribute to the initiative.
Thankfully modern social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter) and fundraising platforms (GoFundMe) make marketing #letsplayforukraine easier. After setting a goal of donating 3000 kits within 6 months, I created a title, and video to help our supporters and new members to understand the vision for the initiative. Within the sport’s charity category, it is important to be engaging which is why the balls and kits used had to be appealing and well designed.
Despite these challenges I faced, and together with #letsplayforukraine community, we were able to meet the challenge of funding and sending 3000 kits. After meeting that goal, we have set our sights on doubling the number of kits to 6000 as well as doubling our donations to fulfill that goal. To that end, I have worked on building partnerships and collaborations to try and connect with more charities in and around Ukraine to get more kits to more children. Communicating with large IGOs (like UNICEF Romania) and NGOs (like Kaitas) has been important. It has also increased the need for more professional standards and metrics to better pitch these organizations. I have also been working online to reach out to these organizations and show that #letsplayforukraine is open to collaboration.
Developing new skills including generating more funds, working with other charities, and accessing resources within the charity sector have helped me to learn what it takes to take ideas and convert them into action for the betterment of others. It has also been key to making the initiative grow. I hope to continue to develop these skills as well as create greater awareness and reach through press coverage of my work at #letsplayforukraine.
Of course, all of this has only been possible because of the support of friends, family, the #letsplayforukraine community, and our partner organizations. I aim to keep working to bring joy to innocent Ukrainian children as they face the perils of war.