How an Association Helped a Soccer Club Go Green

The Forest Green Rovers, an English football club, has earned a reputation for bringing an eco-friendly ethos to a sport not really known for its environmentalism. A U.K.-based trade group played a key role in ensuring the greenest part of the club, however, remains the grass on the field.

When it comes to going green, there are a lot of ways to do it, from saving paper and limiting resources, to using compostable supplies.

But those examples are just for meetings or an office setting. What if you’re running a soccer team—er, football club? In that case, the steps to becoming green differ a bit. England’s Forest Green Rovers have long been working on that singular goal: They want to become the world’s greenest footballers.

The reason they’re so focused on the issue? The club’s chairman, Dale Vince, is also the owner of a green-energy supplier called Ecotricity. And since Vince joined the club in 2010, the firm has stopped selling meat at games and started spreading cow manure on the field.

It’s that latter move that led the club to get a little association help. Forest Green officials have been working closely with the Soil Association, a U.K.-based group that verifies whether a soil is growing organically. Beyond the manure, the organization passes on traditional methods used to keep lawn at its greenest.

“We’re different to every other soccer league club and any other soccer club here in the UK. We do things organically; we use no chemicals or pesticides to bring the best out of the turf. So that means we focus on our soil biology a lot more than other clubs would,” Head Groundsman Matt Rainey told Reuters.

The organization also relies on a solar-powered robotic mower to keep the grass trimmed.

Vince notes that the team has a less prominent reputation than some other soccer clubs, but the eco-friendly effort is one way for the club to stand out.

“We’re, like, fifth tier of English soccer, so it’s a bit different here from what it’s like in the Premiership, for example, where they’re ahead of the curve compared to a lot of clubs at our level, let’s say. But I would say—on the eco front—we’ll be ahead of that,” Vince told the wire service.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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