With joggers on every street corner, sports halls flourishing in every town, sports tutorials across social media platforms, sport is reaching more people than ever before.

Although sports clubs are not traditionally the most environmentally friendly, given the plastic waste generated at every event, the use of synthetic pitches, and increased air travel, among other things, the situation seems to be changing, making sports centres excellent vehicles for raising awareness.

Among the initiatives that have been launched in recent months, the Match for Green association kicked off its brand new green training programme for sports clubs this Monday.

Changing habits is ‘not so easy’

This association was born as an extension of the Paris Volley Club, which made environmental commitments several years ago. “It was at that time that we realised it was not so easy to change habits when one is neither trained nor qualified to do so,” Charles Rougier, in charge of partnerships in Match for Green, told EURACTIV France.

“From there came the idea of setting up a structure capable of supporting the clubs and helping them reduce their environmental impact,” Rougier added.

Since Monday, 25 amateur and professional volleyball, handball, football, basketball and rugby clubs have been following a 68-hour training course.

“The training is scheduled to last twelve months and offers the clubs a support programme, drawn up by sustainable development experts,” explained Rougier.

Among the issues discussed are low-carbon travel, sustainable food, equipment and clothing, recycled waste, as well as reducing waste to the maximum. The association has also made social commitments and will include questions on inclusion and solidarity within the course.

Exemplarity, cooperation, and team spirit

Solidarity, cooperation, team spirit and exemplarity are among the values that define Match for Green, as it points out on its website. Exemplarity, in particular, is important, as Match for Green president Arnaud Gandais explained: “We, sportsmen and women, owe it to ourselves to set an example for our children.”

Gandais said the COVID-19 pandemic has been a turning point, particularly for the world of sports.

“Unquestionably the pandemic we are facing has made us even more aware of the great fragility of our world… It has upset all levels of society – businesses, education, culture – and sport is not spared,” he added.

According to the association, nearly 100 clubs are expected to join the Match for Green programme in 2021.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]