AUTHOR: Kieran Burke – @Kieran_B_Sport.
It has been 8 days since Vladimir Putin launched his barbaric invasion of Ukraine. In that time, we have seen global support for the people of Ukraine, with over one million people having now fled the country. Bordering countries such as Poland, Hungary, and Romania have, of course, seen a mass influx of Ukrainian refugees, as families attempt to escape the mindless violence, with Ireland also expecting to take in thousands of displaced Ukrainians.
League of Ireland clubs are now stepping up to the plate and doing their part to aid the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Domestic clubs, League of Ireland supporters, and high profile individuals, such as former League of Ireland player, Conan Byrne are doing this in a number of different ways, from showing solidarity with the Ukrainian people to organising fundraisers and collections of vital supplies to be sent to the war-torn nation.
Last Friday, on what was the second round of games in the new League of Ireland season, Byrne, who won the League of Ireland with St.Patrick’s Athletic in 2013 among multiple other domestic honours during his playing career, launched a Twitter competition asking his followers to name a goalscorer in the five Premier Division matches taking place that night. Should any of his followers nail their selections, everyone who entered would donate €10 to the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund. While there was no winner on this occasion, Byrne has promised to run the competition again ahead of this weekend’s latest round of fixtures.
“I just wanted to do something fun that would garner some interest that hasn’t been done before in the league and see the proceeds go to Ukraine.”
“Unique ideas in fundraising always capture the imagination and I was delighted with how the first week went, albeit it was only for Premier Division teams.”
“Five scorers may be a bit much so I may narrow it down to 4 from now on. If we get 50 entrants, that’s €500 made for the Humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. If we get more than that over the coming weeks, then super.”
Meanwhile, Dundalk FC Supporter, Donal Greene reached out to his Twitter followers ahead of a trip to Slovakia, where he intends to provide donated supplies of medical equipment, children’s clothing, nappies, baby formula, and military equipment to refugee centres on the Ukrainian border. Greene, has set organised a number of drop-off points in Dundalk, Dublin, and elsewhere around Ireland where donations can be made before he fills up his own personal jeep and sets off towards those in need.
“I’ve been living in Slovakia for the past 10 years. I have a jeep here in Ireland that’s been in storage for around a year and I’ve been meaning to drive it back, so when I saw what is happening in Ukraine, and the need for aid, I decided to do it now and fill the jeep with as many necessary items as possible. I’ll be collecting in Dundalk and Dublin over the weekend and then taking the ferry out on Sunday night.”
As for the clubs themselves, Cobh Ramblers, Finn Harps, Wexford FC and Longford Town are just some of the league sides putting on collections at their home grounds this weekend with the goal of gathering essential supplies to be sent to Ukraine.
Ramblers media officer, James O’Donoghue outlined how the collection was an opportunity to pay thanks and support the many Ukrainian nationals living in the Cobh region who he says, have made a massive contribution to society during their time in Ireland.
“We have seen this week the appalling aggression and violence towards the innocent people of Ukraine. It should as a community make us thankful for what we have and the beauty of being able to attend and enjoy sport at this time. There are Ukrainian citizens who are living in Cobh for the last numbers of years and who contribute hugely to our local community. This is our chance to give back to them. As a club, we stand with the Ukraine and we all pray for a peaceful resolution.”
As well as hosting the collection ahead of their home game against Treaty United on Friday night, Cobh Ramblers are also inviting members of the Ukrainian community to join them as guests at St.Colmans Park for the SSE Airtricity League First Division match.
Finn Harps media officer, Ethan Lee paid tribute to the Donegal clubs community officer, Ann Kelly, and the club’s supporters, who always seem to rally when called upon.
“First of all massive credit must go to the club’s community officer Ann Kelly for organising the collection.”
“Football clubs hold a special place in their communities and can be such a force for good. Our fans never cease to amaze me with their generosity, from their overwhelming support for last season’s charity sponsor, Donegal Downsyndrome, to the generous donations to the We Care Food Bank.”
“They’ve once again stepped up enormously to do what they can for the people of Ukraine who are experiencing unimaginable hardship.”
“The collection will continue today (Friday) including during our game tonight vs Bohs and I’d encourage anyone who is in a position to do so to contribute.”
Longford Town became the latest club to announce their support for the Ukrainian people on Friday afternoon, with the club releasing the following statement, via their official website.
Longford Town Football Club wishes to announce that the club intends to show its support for the people of Ukraine during our upcoming SSE Airtricity League fixture against Cork City on Saturday night at Bishopsgate.
The club has purposely chosen to wear our Blue and Yellow away kit for our first home game of the new season as a show of solidarity to Ukraine, we will also fly the national flag of Ukraine at our stadium and 50% of the gate receipts on the night will be donated to a chosen charity working on the ground in Ukraine.
We are appealing for all Longford Town fans to come out and support this great cause. We also appeal those fans in the surrounding counties of Roscommon, Leitrim, Cavan and Westmeath to come along to Bishopsgate and show your support.
We will raise awareness of this on match-day and throughout the night on our social media channels.
For those who wish to contribute but cannot make the game, you can purchase online tickets here: https://ltfc.ie/matchtickets/
Speaking to BetweenTheStripes.net, Longford’s Head of Operations, James Donnelly stated the decision to show public support for Ukraine was something the club simply had to do on a human level.
“We feel as a club, that we have to play our part in doing whatever we can to help. And not just as a club, but as human beings. It’s important we don’t ignore what’s happening and do whatever we can. It might not be much, but it’s something. It’s important to get the message out there to the Ukrainian people…they’re not alone and we stand with them.”
The FAI have also done their part this week, in terms of showing solidarity with their Ukrainian counterparts, with Abbotstown announcing no Irish teams will play against Russia or Russian club sides at any level of the game until further notice, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, other LOI clubs have also shown their solidarity with the Ukrainian people, with Athlone Town announcing they will proudly fly the national flag of Ukraine at the Athlone Town Stadium during their Women’s National League game against Wexford Youths on Saturday. Not only that, but the Midlands club have also promised to donate all proceeds from the match to the Irish Red Cross Ukraine appeal and have encouraged supporters to come out in force in order to support the fundraiser. In a further act of solidarity, Athlone Town’s players will take to the field with the national colours of Ukraine over their jersey’s
Multiple other clubs have used their following on social media to post messages of support to the Ukrainian people, with league champions, Shamrock Rovers posting the simple yet powerful message of “peace, please”, something we can all only continue to hope for in these difficult and dark times.
BetweenTheStripes.net is also doing its part to support the people of Ukraine. Any donations made to our Buy Me A Coffee between today (Friday, March 4th) and Friday, March 11th will be donated to the Red Cross appeal via Revolut, who are currently matching all donations made.
To donate, visit our website or go directly to https://t.co/riuhSz8yIw
— Between the Stripes (@betweenstripes) March 4, 2022