Andrian Selivestru, a graduate of GIS’ MSc Football Business programme, wanted to provide football and mental health sessions for the children of Ukrainian refugees settling in London as a result of the devastating conflict in their home country. After pitching this to the UCFB-GIS Board at this year’s Entrepreneur Award event, he walked away with £12,000 to help support the admirable project.

With the first session taking place last week, UCFB-GIS’ Dean of School, Nick Wilde, takes us through the day and the success that defied expectation…

On Tuesday 24th May, Andrian Selivestru's vision of helping the children of Ukrainian refugees fleeing from war in their own country, through providing free football sessions, became a reality. Around 30 people turned up for the first session, which was beyond the initial expectations.

Andrian's project was able to start when he won funding in the UCFB Entrepreneur's Competition, also receiving guidance from Steve Sutherland, an ambassador of the award-winning Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) who have also pledged support for the project for any Ukrainians based in South East London.

Andrian had reached out to the local Ukrainian community in East London and identified a pitch in Leytonstone, which will be home to these sessions for the next ten weeks. The players ranged from eight to 24, and they were split into three separate groups. They took part in some lively sessions and were able to forget the situation at home for a while. There was also an impromptu visit from a local West Ham scout on the lookout for new talent!

This is just the beginning; now the project will develop with the help of crowdfunding, sponsorship, donations and volunteering. Andrian was pleased with the first session and impressed by the support of the local community – he is really looking forward to growing the project.