DMU to help create first Net Zero amateur football clubs


Researchers and students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are working with two community football clubs to help them achieve their ambitions of becoming Net Zero. 

The collaboration comes as the United Nations (UN) announced its Football for the Goals Campaign at the Women’s Euros 2022 in Manchester this week.

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The players for SG Eintracht Peitz

Leicester Nirvana recently wrote to the United Nations Academic Impact Initiative (UNAI) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Hub based at DMU asking for a partnership to achieve their green ambitions.

Shortly after, the university was connected with SG Eintracht Peitz, near Cottbus, in Germany, a team that also has the same vision.

The project to create a Net Zero amateur football club is believed to be a first in both the United Kingdom and Germany.

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The full Leicester Nirvana team

Researchers at DMU have already begun scoping work with Leicester Nirvana to identify how a team from one a city-centre estate with many social challenges begins the process of decarbonisation.

The aim is to help both clubs become Net Zero in carbon emissions in all aspects of the beautiful game. This includes travel to games, the players’ diets and nutrition, the kits the players wear to train, the clubhouses and lighting, recycling practices and inclusive values. Both teams want to use the SDGs as a framework for collaboration to achieve their visions.

Associate Director of SDG Impact, and Net Zero Research Theme Director, Mark Charlton said: “This is a very exciting project, whether you like football or not. There are so many aspects to amateur sport that will need addressing as we all work towards a Net Zero future. I hope looking at it through the lens of community sport will inspire more researchers and students to get involved and bring their expertise to this project.”

Kirk Master, who leads Leicester Nirvana, said: “We are really excited to partner DMU on our ambition to be the UK’s first Net Zero amateur football team. We need the research to innovate ideas to enable us to live greener lives, and also, as a club we believe there is a need to educate our squads of more than 1,000 boys and girls in Leicester, of how to lead a Net Zero lifestyle. We are also delighted to be partnering with Eintracht Peitz – they have already shared us some interesting ideas.”

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Leicester Nirvana players

SG Eintracht Peitz chairman, Sebastian Bubner, said: “After much regional support, we are now pleased to meet like-minded people internationally. Together we can learn from each other and make new contacts. Besides the climate goals that unite us, there are certainly many more synergies. We are already very close to climate neutrality, for example, by heating only with 100% renewable gas. It is also special that all projects to reduce and offset emissions are located in our sports grounds and with our teams, and that we don't have to invest elsewhere to achieve Net Zero.”

The early stages of this project have received a lot of interest and support locally and nationally including from Forest Green Rovers, a professional football team in League One, described by FIFA as 'the greenest football club in the world'.

The United Nations announced Football for the Goals on Thursday July 6 –  details here:

There will be sessions to further introduce the project to researchers and staff who may wish to use aspects of the initiative in their teaching, through student projects, hackathons and site visits, in coming weeks.

DMU is also exploring the potential to support the development of a county wide Sports Sustainability Network. Working alongside Embark CSR, a company that is supporting former Leicester City player, Matt Piper’s FSD Academy, in its ambition to become a net zero sports establishment, which is assessing the feasibility of establishing a network of local sports clubs to share learning and develop innovative approaches towards decarbonisation. 

To find out more, or get involved, please email: mcharlton@dmu.ac.uk

Posted on Thursday 7th July 2022

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