Irish Football

A Game-Changing Move: Irish Football’s Sustainable Transformation

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An Unprecedented Move for Sustainability

In an unprecedented move, the Irish Football Association has launched an innovative Sustainability Strategy, marking a substantial step forward in sports governance.

This ground-breaking strategy focuses on five key objectives, streamlined from the 11 target areas identified in UEFA’s Sustainability Strategy 2030 – Strength Through Unity. These objectives, focusing on Health and Wellbeing, Safeguarding, Equality and Inclusion, Anti-Racism and Anti-Sectarianism, and Climate, aim to promote a more inclusive, healthier, and environmentally friendly sports culture.

A Spectacular Introduction for the Fans

The Irish FA unveiled this strategy to its fans in a spectacular fashion, during the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifier match between Northern Ireland and Kazakhstan, held last Monday, 19th June, at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.

The fans were introduced to the strategy via large-scale screen adverts, shining light on the stadium-related sustainability initiatives that form the cornerstone of this plan. Highlights included renewable energy powering the stadium, rainwater harvesting initiatives, use of locally sourced food by caterers, and the installation of LED lights throughout the venue.

Strategic Objectives and Futuristic Goals

This plan brings forth ambitious, yet realistic and strategic objectives:

  1. To generate £3bn in Social Return on Investment (SROI) over the next five years for the community.
  2. To become a torchbearer in sustainability, ensuring the national stadium is powered by renewable energy and encouraging affiliated clubs to partake in sustainability projects.
  3. To serve as an exemplary governing body, advocating for equality, diversity, and inclusion.

Unveiling the Vision: Words from the Irish FA President

The Irish FA President, Conrad Kirkwood, shared his views about this momentous step: “By taking inspiration from the best practice work undertaken by UEFA, this strategy is transparent, structured and well thought out. We have engaged with key stakeholders, partners and suppliers to develop this plan.

“We always strive to be a progressive and inclusive association. This strategy underpins that and is aligned to the Football Social Responsibility pillar in our corporate strategy, A Roadmap for Football.

“Football has the power to bring about great change. It can help educate, promote health and wellbeing, and give everyone a sense of belonging. Most importantly football can promote inclusivity like no other sport.”

This inspiring move by the Irish FA signals a vital step towards a more sustainable, inclusive, and progressive future for football, demonstrating the power of sport in driving significant societal change.

JBX PaperPak

At JBX PaperPak, we are delighted to see an institution as big as the Irish FA begin to take the need to prioritise sustainability seriously. We are optimistic that this will inspire many other sports bodies and companies to follow in this example and makes the necessary to changes to safeguard the environment.

Using renewable energy to power the stadium and local catering suppliers is a great way for the club to minimise its carbon footprint and stimulate the local economy. These are the same reasons JBX PaperPak uses all local supply partners and imports nothing in the making of our products.

Actions such as these, however, must not allow for complacency; these are the first steps in a long journey, not the final destination. Like all businesses, football still has a long way to go in mitigating its carbon footprint and environmental impact. Fans of sport should encourage their teams, leagues, and governing bodies to make sustainability a top priority going forward. Governments and policy makers should also take steps to both incentivise and require all types of businesses to make these same kinds of decisions in how they operate.

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Our paper straws are made by stacking 3 plies of high-quality food grade kraft paper and putting them through a core-winding machine that applies an adhesive and rolls the straws into shape. They are then cut to size, coated in lacquer to ensure quality and are then ready to be sold.