Meet #PlayGreen, an Erasmus+ project where ENGSO is a partner

Updated: Jun 12, 2019

How can the environment be utilised to promote active citizenship and attract new volunteers into sport? PlayGreen, an Erasmus+ Sport project, where ENGSO is a partner aims to answer this question.

PlayGreen’s successful kick-off meeting was held in Malta on 27-28 of March 2019. The project aims to create volunteering opportunities for young people focused on sport and the environment through the development of an innovative volunteering format. To achieve this, PlayGreen hopes to create a methodology for greener sport events and develop a European network of organisations that will be able to enhance sustainability in grassroots sports through volunteering programmes and sharing of good practices.

The project includes six partners (including ENGSO), which will work together to provide mentoring opportunities for young volunteers to empower them in their journey of raising environmental awareness through sports and in the process become active citizens.

Our project partners are:

Ecoserveis - Project Leader (Spain), Malta Football Association-1900 (Malta), Futbols (Latvia), Eesti Jalgpall (Estonia), Voetbal Vlaanderen (Belgium)

On ENGSO’s side, two new staff members, Niki Koutrou and Dirk Falken will contribute to the project by providing a pan-European perspective on sports volunteering, mentoring the young volunteers and will be mainly responsible for the communication and dissemination of the project. These latter activities will not only be done on European level and on the level of football, but extending its scope beyond football to any other sport in Europe and beyond.

To date, most sport volunteering programmes in Europe have been focused on social inclusion, equality, intercultural exchange or other social-based approaches. On the other hand, the topic of protecting the environment through sports has not yet been tackled in depth. Nonetheless, volunteering programmes based on the environment have been proven as a great tool to enhance citizenship commitment to tackling social challenges and has been a key driver to behavioural changes. For example, the effects of climate change increasingly influence people to become more aware of the need to act and to engage in actions towards environmental protection and sustainable lifestyles. Therefore, considering how climate change awareness has been proven a powerful motivation to change people’s behaviour, we believe that creating volunteering opportunities based on the environmental impact of sports could attract new target groups that may not yet be deeply involved in sports, but could integrate them in their daily life as another dimension of living a sustainable life. Similarly, sport clubs and organisations in Europe suffer from a general decrease of their volunteers, who are the backbone for their sustainability. Generally, volunteers devote their time in something they believe in. Thus, PlayGreen could provide a new pathway for individuals to volunteer and participate in sport by contributing to the civil society movement raising environmental awareness.

The project partners will work together to attract, involve and motivate volunteers to develop a ‘green’ football league, as a pilot case to test a new volunteering format based on the environment that will be then adapted to other sports. As four out of the six partners work directly with football clubs, the project will offer opportunities to:

1) explore ways to involve a new group of people into volunteering and participating in sports,

2) increase environmental awareness in sport at grassroots level and

3) promote the development of green and leadership skills of volunteers that will be useful in their personal and professional life in the future.

The project’s kick-off meeting was hosted by the Malta Football Association. The meeting included a visit to the Malta-Spain UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier, which was kindly organised by the hosts.

The first day of the kick-off was dedicated for the partners to get to know each other, to discuss their organisations’ best practices in attracting, motivating and empowering volunteers in sports and the environment, to create mutual understanding about the project and the roles of each partner in its delivery. The day continued with workshops on sports volunteering that ENGSO has prepared and delivered and on environmental volunteering delivered by Ecoserveis. The seminar materials will then be used to develop a mentoring toolkit for the young volunteers of the project.

Participants of the kick-off meeting at a workshop

The second day commenced with a presentation and discussion about the communication and dissemination plan for the project that ENGSO is leading as well as a planning session for the first year of the project. Throughout this first year, the partners with the support of ENGSO will launch a campaign to attract volunteers in each partner country who will then be tasked with the goal of developing a ‘green league’ and attract an additional number of volunteers to participate in the league and their environmental campaign. A guide on environmental volunteering in sports, a research study, strategies, best practices and videos on engaging volunteers and greening sports events - which will disseminate the project and its findings - will be produced. An informal lunch for the partners at the premises of the Malta Football Association concluded a successful and productive kick-off meeting.

The next PlayGreen meeting will take place in Estonia in October 2019, at which some of the project’s young volunteers from each country will be invited to attend and take part in a mentoring programme. Until then, all partners will be busy in developing their communication campaigns in attracting volunteers and strategies to bridge sports and the environment to develop skilled and active young Europeans.

To keep updated on the project, follow its Facebook page and Twitter account.