Like many businesses around the world, the AFL is increasingly looking for ways to have a positive impact on the community. Be that by contributing to the continual quest for gender equality through the development of AFLW, or by mitigating the impacts of climate change, many of which are being felt by clubs around the country. In order to contribute to the latter of these, they have implemented a program called Green Clubs, and this is what it’s all about.
Why does the Green Clubs Program exist?
The AFL has outlined three major reasons as to why they have implemented the Green Clubs program: to save money; to improve infrastructure; and to demonstrate community leadership. The latter of these is relatively self-explanatory, but the former two require a little more discussion.
In some parts of the country, extended periods of drought have had a major impact on football grounds, many to the extent that they can no longer be used. In these regions the price of water has also increased significantly, putting more and more strain on club finances. Elsewhere, flooding has had an effect, also damaging fields and other infrastructure and once again requiring substantial financial investment to reverse the damages. By committing to the Green Clubs program, clubs will develop techniques to minimise their environmental impact, and implement action plans which can help to mitigate the aforementioned issues while simultaneously demonstrating strong leadership within the community.
What does the Green Clubs entail?
Clubs that commit to going green will implement a variety of steps laid out by the AFL Community’s Green Club Module. There are two parts to this module: the first lays out the preliminary steps a club can make; while the second details more specifically how to create an action plan.
Part 1, which is called ‘Laying Strong Foundations’, begins with a commitment, with involved clubs making a public pledge to reduce their respective impacts on the environment. Following that, these clubs can undertake a Green Club Environmental Assessment, which has been put together by the AFL and can be downloaded by any club. This will help to provide some awareness around what may need to be included in the action plan, and the AFL recommends it is redone every six months to a year. A professional assessment is also suggested as an added way to track clubs’ environmental impacts. The final step of the first module is for clubs to engage with their local council, before it’s time to create the action plan.
Part 2 of the module then moves into more specifics surrounding this action plan, including the areas that should be considered as well as the ways in which positive changes can be implemented. These areas include energy, water and waste. For each of these sections, the AFL Green Club Module suggests ways in which clubs can track their performance, and offers a range of suggestions about how they can be more effectively managed. Examples of this for the water section include fixing existing leaks, purchasing water and energy-efficient appliances, and installing and using rainwater tanks.
When does a club become a ‘Green Club’?
Any club in Australia can become a Green Club by reading and following the steps involved in the module, but there are certain stages at which official recognition is given by the AFL. The first level of recognition is the ‘Bronze Level’, which clubs attain when they initially read the module and consider the various things they could implement in the following stages. Next up is the Silver Level, which clubs reach when they complete their Green Club Environmental Assessment and develop their Green Club Action Plan.
The final level, as you may have guessed, is the Gold Level. This stage is reached when clubs have either completed or made ‘significant progress’ on the majority of actions outlined within the action plan, tangible reductions in water, energy and waste can be shown, and further steps signalling a commitment to continue improving in these areas have been outlined.
The significance of the environmental footprint being made by various industries is increasingly understood around the world, and sport is no exception. As one of the most popular sports in the country, Aussie Rules Football is well-placed to have a significant positive impact both in terms of the actions of clubs around the country, and the mindset of these clubs’ respective communities. The AFL Community Green Clubs program provides these clubs with a step-by-step plan to achieve their goals, continuing the AFL’s continued commitment to footy in regional areas and showing that there is more to the sport than whether current Premiership favourite Brisbane’s $5 odds to win the Grand Final prove to be justified, or which big name has recently signed a contract — it’s also a great platform through which to effect positive change.