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      Palace Academy x Football For Future: Building an environmentally sustainable culture in football


      Crystal Palace’s Under-16s took part in a workshop with Football For Future to inform the up and coming young Eagles about the connections between football, climate change and sustainability.

      Crystal Palace’s 3-2 win over Sheffield United at Selhurst Park last Tuesday was not only a win on the pitch, but also off the pitch as it was a part of Green Football Weekend - the biggest climate-football initiative designed to bring fans, clubs, leagues, and partners together to address issues relating to climate change and the environment.

      One of the key factors of Green Football Weekend was to raise the awareness of the issues of climate change not only to fans, but also to those inside the club too. The club launched Palace For The Planet ahead of Green Football Weekend, while the Under-16s were visited by Football For Future and took part in a workshop to increase their awareness of climate change and sustainability within the modern game.

      Elliot Arthur-Worsop, Founder and Co-Director of Football For Future, ran the workshop with the young Eagles, said: “Football For Future has come to the Crystal Palace Academy and we've been working with the Under-16s, talking a little bit about climate change and sustainability, and how they're related to football.

      “It’s part of the Premier League's Life Skills program and we delved into lots of different creative discussions around what climate change is and how climate change impacts football.

      “The boys were talking about extreme weather, [on a local level] how they've had games called off due to flooded pictures and even AFCON 2023 [on a larger level], which is happening at the moment, being rearranged.

      “[We had] lots of great ideas around how climate change affects football, but they were also talking about how football has an impact on the planet through transportation, the food that we eat and a lot of the merchandise that exists in the industry as well.”

      Indeed, the workshop took the U16s through their paces in terms of raising their awareness about the scale of climate change and bringing it to the forefront of their thoughts. Arthur-Worsop went on to add:  “Climate change is rising up the agenda all over the world, and the conversation is picking up a lot of pace.

      “It's really important that nobody's left behind [in that conversation], especially Academy players. They make a lot of educational sacrifices [for their careers] and sometimes they might not have access to geography classes, for example, like a lot of other school children do in this country.

      “So whether they go on to become the best athletes in the world or whether they find a different career is something really important for them to engage with, because climate change and sustainability weaves into every part of our lives.”

      The U16s were engaged and entertained in the workshop itself, discovering the impact football has on the climate and the shift towards a more sustainable approach – discussions vital to an Academy player's rounder education.

      “It's been really exciting to see the progress of sustainability and climate action and football.” Explained Arthur-Worsop. “Just a few years ago, when we started out there was really nothing happening.

      “Clubs didn’t even have sustainability managers. Forest Green Rovers were leading the way, but now more than half of the teams in the Premier League have got sustainability managers.

      “We're also seeing UEFA doing loads of great work, the 2022 Qatar World Cup was also speaking a lot about being a sustainable tournament, which sets the precedent for future major sporting events in football and beyond, it's really exciting.

      “The Premier League is doing a lot of great stuff, through their own operations, but also supporting us to work in the communities with their players and especially their academy players. Generally, we're seeing a lot more climate advocacy, from professional football players, which is really exciting.

      “[They have] influence when it comes to social change. We've seen the power of that when it comes to food poverty, gender equity, LGBTQ+ conversation, racial justice as well, and climate should be no different. It's still quite a new topic, but it's picking up a lot of pace and the future looks quite exciting.”

      Academy players are actively involved in positive climate action, as they found out in the workshop. As aspiring professionals in the Academy, they’re using a facility which now has compensation ditches constructed, creating a vibrant environment for wildlife. 111 trees have also been planted and solar panels will be installed at the Academy in early 2024 which will save 9 tCO2e a year.

      They were made aware of this, as well as first-team players driving electric cars and the main team coaches being powered by Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO; also known as renewable diesel).

      This was crucial in part of raising awareness and having an impactful session, as Arthur-Worsop remarked: “they might hear that they've got a lesson on sustainability or climate and they think they don't know anything about it, but as soon as we unpack it and we relate it to football, the ideas are like a tap that turns on and they just keep on flowing throughout.

      “I was super blown away with how engaged the Academy players were at Crystal Palace. They had so many fantastic ideas, not only in terms of their pre-existing knowledge, but also their creativity around how football can become more sustainable as well, which is super inspiring. It's really important and, most importantly, we had a really good time.”

      Academy Head of Education Rowan Griffiths added: “Football For Future is a pioneering organisation committed to merging the worlds of sports and environmental consciousness.

      “The workshop provided a unique platform for our young players to delve into the intricate relationship between football and the environment.

      “Through engaging presentations and interactive sessions, the workshop shed light on the substantial ecological impact of football activities and, conversely, the environmental challenges that can affect the beautiful game.

      “The players gained valuable insights into sustainable practices, emphasising the responsibility of both players and organisations to contribute positively to the environment.

      “This eye-opening experience not only highlighted the importance of environmental stewardship in football but also served as a catalyst for raising awareness among the U16 players, inspiring them to become advocates for a greener future within the realm of their sport.”

      For more information on the club’s environmental sustainability commitments, please visit

      For more information on Football For Future, please visit