They dreamed of it and they did it. The players from Forest Green (England) have just won their ticket to play in League One, the third division of the English football championship. The British club, based in Nailsworth (Gloucertershire), previously distinguished itself mainly through its ecological commitment, especially in the field of plant foods. Assigned “the greenest club in the world” by FIFA, the Forest Green Rovers thus prove that veganism, environmental protection and sporting achievements go hand in hand on the pitch.
This promotion to the third division came after a 0-0 draw on Saturday 23 April against Bristol Rovers. The moment is historic: Forest Green become the smallest club in England to reach League One, as specified the guard† But above all, it is a great reward for this club like no other, which is stepping up its efforts on and off the pitch by committing to greener football.
“First vegan club in the world”
Founded in 1889, based in Nailsworth, northeast of Bristol, the club has long maintained amateur status playing in the 7th and 8th divisions. But a turning point came in 2010 when he was taken over by Dale Vince, the president of the British company Ecotricity, which specializes in green energy. The latter aims to grow the Forest Green while also putting it on the path to sustainability, as reported GEO†
The businessman is pulling out all the stops for this: almost 180 solar panels have been installed on the roofs of The New Lawn stadium, whose parking lot is now equipped with electric charging stations. A rainwater harvesting system has also been installed and the lawns are treated without pesticides, with organic fertilizers. In terms of equipment, the players’ jerseys are made from recycled materials, including coffee grounds.
But that’s not all, Vince also wages war on meat, for ecological reasons. Meats will no longer be sold in the stadium and players will be offered only vegan menus. Last February, the vegan food supplement brand VEG 1 became an official sponsor of the club, an industry first.
A new stadium and increasing commitment
In addition to becoming “first vegan club in the world”, the Forest Green Rovers are seeing an improvement in their performance and are still talked about for their environmental commitment. In the weekend of 23 and 24 April, the team traveled by electric bus to the match that promoted them to D3: a first for a football club. The club is also the first to be certified by the UN with the carbon neutrality label, recalls GEO† An achievement that attracted sponsors and allowed the club to stabilize its finances.
Today Forest Green wants to aim further and further in the third division. Next project in sight: build a new ecologically sound wooden stadium. An ambition that still has to make noise in the football world…