Last week Spirit of Football and Cool Down, the Sport for Climate Action Network, kicked off The Ball on its epic journey towards the 2023 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and Australia. The event in Battersea Park, London, brought together football and climate activism to highlight the need for urgent climate action.
On Monday evening, millions of people across the country were gripped by the Lionesses demolition job against Norway. An 8-0 scoreline, record tv audiences and a capacity crowd at the Amex stadium in Brighton showcased the best of womens football. The overwhelmingly positive public response to the match and the team as a whole, shows not only how desperate we are as a nation for footballing success but also the power of sport to bring a country together.
The game also raised important messages around equality and access in sport; what if sport could do the same for messaging around climate?
Spirit of Football fuses the global force of sport, with the pressing need for climate action. Every four years, The Ball kicks off from its “Mount Olympus”, Battersea Park in London, the birthplace of modern rules football. The Ball celebrates this moment because it gave rise to a common set of rules which enable the whole world to play together.
At the Kick Off event, New Zealand international football player Katie Rood officially kicked off The Ball in London, sending it and hundreds of replica balls on a 12-month global climate action and advocacy mission from Suva to South Africa, Indiana to Istanbul, Jordan to Antarctica and eventually ending up at the World Cup in her home country New Zealand.
Everyone loves the World Cup, but if we are to be able to continue playing it in the future, we need collective and urgent climate action. The journey of The Ball across land and sea from London to New Zealand is an opportunity for football to get its environmental act in order. I am going to take action. Are you? I’m looking forward to the prospect of reuniting with The Ball in Auckland at the kick-off of the 2023 Women’s World Cup on July 20 2023.
– Katie Rood, professional footballer for Hearts & New Zealand
You can follow the journey of the ball here.
Upheaval in the climate is already taking its toll on global sport. Crises face every activity from winter and water sports to grass pitches, stadiums and hard courts. Climate breakdown means heatwaves and heat strokes for players and public alike, extreme weather that floods stadiums and grassroots playing fields; sea level rises that will inundate football grounds and sweep away golf links.And yet global sport’s carbon emissions at the higher end of estimates are as large as Spain or coal-burning Poland.
If your organisation would like to join the Cool Down network please register your interest and we will be in touch.