Football is an international sport. Players travel thousands of miles with their clubs and their countries, but travel is one of the big contributors to CO2 emissions and other air pollution.
So how can a professional football club work to address this problem? In Easter 2022, our Academy tried to do things a little differently in an effort to start dealing with the issue.
The under-16 team took a new view on a tour to Scotland to try to be more considerate towards our planet, whilst still creating a fantastic development tour for the Academy players.
The first step was getting to Scotland. The boys and staff boarded a train from London to Glasgow, hugely reducing the initial carbon footprint of the tour. Although in actual journey time, the train is slower, when the group took into account travel to and from airport and waiting time, the team felt the train would be the perfect start.
The squad then stayed at a hotel which had previously been used for COP26, so had been working hard to be more efficient already. As aspiring professional players, it is vital the team get the right nutrients to be able to fuel performance and recovery.
Working with the academy nutritionist, the hotel was able to develop a menu that was locally sourced and offered the players and coaching staff vegetable-based options.
After a competitive game against Rangers, the squad opted to engage with an environmental charity to help them with some planting projects on the banks of the beautiful Loch Lomond. And yes, the team travelled from their Glasgow base to the project site on the train!
The team were also challenged to make changes to their behaviours with their choices helping to ‘earn trees’ that the club will commit to planting at our Arsenal Forest site in Kenya to help offset any residual emissions from the tour. This could be achieved by choosing vegetarian or vegan meals (which were still appropriate for performance), reusing towels, only using reusable water bottles, and many other small changes.
The team really committed to this project and we are delighted to report that the group were able to plant 500 trees and earn a further 145 to ensure that this will become a carbon-neutral tour over time.
Although this is only a small tour, it is vital to understand what we can do to be better. We all know that there will be times when we have to fly, but we can take action ourselves to limit our environmental impact.
Well done to the under-16 squad and staff who have been so supportive and enthusiastic.