Football stars Andriy Shevchenko and Oleksandr Zinchenko have backed the launch of a charity (Oxbridge Foundation) which will fund scholarships for Ukrainian students affected by the war.

The Ukrainian stars are ambassadors of the Oxbridge Foundation, to provide educational opportunities for students impacted by the conflict.

It aims to fund up to 20 placements on the one-year intensive programme: a combination of A level studies, supported by Innovation and Entrepreneurship courses and camps in Oxford and UC, Berkeley.

Premier League star and Ballon d’Or winner Andriy Shevchenko and Arsenal’s Oleksandr Zinchenko helped launch the foundation at a press conference at Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxfordshire last night (Monday).

Andriy Shevchenko, who scored 48 goals in 111 appearances for Ukraine during his playing career spoke of the importance of helping the country’s “next generation.”

He said: “Supporting the educational development of young people is essential to empowering the next generation.

“It is vital as part of our united efforts to re-build Ukraine and help our people. By nurturing their talent and investing in their futures, the work of the Oxbridge Foundation will have a fundamental impact on the lives of these students, their families and communities.

“I’m committed to helping maintain awareness of the war in Ukraine and helping ensure a variety of help and support is sourced constantly. The Oxbridge Foundation is an important charity that can make a big difference and I encourage people to get involved.”

The Oxbridge Foundation was established by Stephen and Helen Clark. Mr Clarke is a former Diplomat and First Secretary for the British Government in Ukraine and is now Principal of Cherwell College Oxford. His wife Helen was born in Ukraine and is Vice Principal of Cherwell College.

The Foundation’s objective is to advance the educational opportunities of students affected by war and civil unrest. In its first year, Oxbridge Foundation aims to raise funds to create up to 20 fully funded one-year scholarships for dislocated Ukrainian students who have been affected by the war and whose opportunities are significantly impacted because of ongoing hostilities.

It will initially offer scholarships to academically able individuals aged 17-19 years to become part of a multidisciplinary course to prepare the way through to higher education and future employment.

Oleksandr Zinchenko added: “I am proud to support the vital work of the Oxbridge Foundation as part of my ongoing commitment to supporting the lives of all Ukrainian people who have been affected by the war.

“It’s essential we do not forget the damage that is still going on and how this affects all Ukrainians around the world. It’s outrageous, but we stand together as Ukrainians and will keep moving forward. We’re privileged here in the UK and we can make a difference by working together, the support here has helped so much.”

The Oxbridge Foundation has already sponsored Ukrainian students at summer camps in August 2023 at UC Berkeley, California and at Cherwell College, Oxford. Students who benefited from the camps have been shortlisted to be among the first to receive further scholarships through the foundation.

Stephen Clarke, Trustee of the Oxbridge Foundation said: “The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has affected the educational opportunities of so many bright, young Ukrainian people. We hope through the work of our foundation, we will empower them to continue their studies and restore their learning and development opportunities.”

The Oxbridge Foundation was established in Spring 2023 in partnership with Cherwell College Oxford, UC Berkeley in California, Football for Ukraine, Top Five Management and Bush Tennis Center (USA).

The Foundation will host a Gala Dinner at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, on March 2nd 2024 to raise funds and awareness to support their work over the next year.

Retired footballer Shevchenko, 47, played for Dynamo Kyiv, AC Milan and Chelsea in a star-studded career. He was born and raised in Ukraine. Since the conflict in Ukraine began he has relentlessly supported his country via charity work and given wider support.

Zinchenko, 26, formerly of Manchester City and PSV has been capped 57 times by his country. While playing for Arsenal in the Premier League he has also worked tirelessly to support Ukraine via charity work.

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