How Premier League helps inspire young people to protect the planet

17 Jan 2024

Event at Anfield shows how football can empower children to take action over climate change

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More than 100 children representing 25 professional clubs gathered at Anfield recently as part of the Premier League’s commitment to empowering young people to take positive action around climate change.

The children, aged from nine to 13 years, came from club community organisations across the Premier League and English Football League and all participate in Premier League-funded community programmes – Premier League Primary Stars, Kicks and Inspires. They have been leading youth social action projects with their clubs/local community on environmental sustainability and, as a reward, were invited to exhibit their activities at the Protect the Planet Celebration Event at the home of Liverpool Football Club.

The event was funded by the Premier League and #iwill Fund and gave the young people the opportunity to hear from a panel featuring inspirational role models and experts.  

“We are running projects like today to make sure that we can use the platform that football has to educate and spread awareness,” said Will Hutton, Head of Sustainability at the Premier League.

Launched in August 2022, and designed to reduce the barriers to participation in youth social action, the Protect the Planet Challenge increases young people’s knowledge and understanding about environmental sustainability and empowers them to positively influence climate change action in their local communities.

Over 2,400 young people representing more than 90 professional football club community organisations from across England and Wales have taken part in the challenge to date.

“Seeing young people take action in their local communities with their football club is so empowering,” said Tayshan Hayden-Smith, the TV presenter and community gardener, who was a guest at Anfield. “The diverse range of activities and projects just goes to show what can be done.”

The Premier League became a signatory of the UN Sports for Climate Action framework in 2021 and has been working towards reducing its own emissions by 50 per cent before 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2040, in line with the 1.5 degrees global warming limit of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Together with clubs, the Premier League has been supporting fans and communities to understand the importance of environmental sustainability.  

“With the Premier League Stadium Fund we have been investing in new hi-tech infrastructure across the grassroots game such as energy-efficient floodlights and solar panels,” Hutton added. “We have pushed climate-change training through all of our academies to make sure the next generation of footballers are fluent on climate issues.”

The Challenge is being co-designed and delivered with the Premier League Charitable Fund (PLCF) Protect the Planet Youth Panel, a group of 14 young people aged 11–16 with a passion for this topic.

“Environmental sustainability is of great importance to the Premier League Charitable Fund,” said PLCF chief executive, Ruth Shaw OBE:. “Through the Protect the Planet Challenge young people from Premier League programmes across England and Wales have developed some brilliant ideas to drive positive environmental sustainability action in school, at home and in their communities.

“We must all play our part in this important issue, and I’m grateful to the Premier League and #iwill Fund for their support in helping our charity, and the professional football club community organisations we work with, to empower thousands of young people to take positive action on climate change.”

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