AFL Players for Climate Action want to kick goals for climate change awareness

Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill

More than 260 AFL and AFLW players across Australia have signed up to a new action group AFL Players for Climate Action (AFLP4CA) to seek more action on tackling global warming.

AFLP4CA was founded by North Melbourne player Tom Campbell and retired North Melbourne and Port Adelaide player Jasper Pittard. The roster includes high profile players Ben Brown and Daisy Pearce (Melbourne), Dyson Heppell (Essendon), Jordan Roughead (Collingwood), Erin Phillips (Adelaide), Luke Parker and Tom Hickey (Sydney), Luke McDonald and Emma Kearney (North Melbourne), Darcy Vescio (Carlton), Nicole Barr (Greater Western Sydney), Lincoln McCarthy (Brisbane) and Lachie Weller (Gold Coast).

A recent survey of 580 AFL and AFLW players found that 92 per cent were concerned about climate change, with most unsure how they could be a part of the solution. The group believes it can offer AFL players and their supporters credible information from experts to help normalise positive climate action across Australia.

“AFL Players for Climate Action helps players find solutions to reduce their own emissions, use their profiles to share personal experiences about climate change and builds support for greater climate action from clubs and fans,” said Tom Campbell, a co-founder who played 54 AFL games for North Melbourne and Western Bulldogs.

He said the idea for AFL Players for Climate Action came about during conversations between his North Melbourne teammates during Australia’s Black Summer bushfires about how climate change is worsening extreme weather events.

“You don’t have to look far to see the devastation climate change is having on Australians, and our sport, including the impacts of extreme weather events. Extreme heat is putting our health at risk, floods are destroying fields for seasons, and the poor air quality from bushfire smoke even forced my team to train indoors during the Black Summer bushfires. 

“I’m not a scientist, but I listen to the climate experts and they’re telling us we need to act now to tackle global warming. We all have a role to play,” said Campbell.

“Sporting clubs and codes can rapidly cut carbon pollution by changing the way they build venues and travel, and by using more renewable energy and cutting waste. We’ve already partnered up with Go Neutral to help AFL players offset their emissions – covering flights, ground transport and our personal vehicles,” he said. 

Essendon captain and AFL player, Dyson Heppell described the move as “really cool”. “We have a vested interest outside footy, because global warming will affect us all, and I think it’s really cool getting a group of like-minded people together and trying to use our platforms as much as possible to make a change.”

Jasper Pittard, a co-founder who played 157 AFL games for North Melbourne and Port Adelaide, added: “Being involved in footy since I was a young kid, I know the power of teamwork and the importance of having a strong collective voice. That’s what we’re all about.

“Future generations of Australians deserve a chance to enjoy the game we’ve been lucky enough to play; for that to happen we need urgent and credible climate action at a national level as well. Most of our members already signed the Cool Down open letter calling for the federal government to cut Australia’s emissions by at least half by 2030 and reach net zero before 2050,” said Pittard.

“Australia has a huge opportunity to be world leaders in the clean energy transformation – just look at our renewable energy resources. We want to be part of the winning team that helps to make this happen and helps safeguard the future of the people, the places and the sports we love.”

Melbourne AFL premiership winner Ben Brown added: “I want to make sure my children get to enjoy the great outdoors, and summer sport, just like I did growing up in Tassie. We need to act now to avoid the worst climate impacts.”

Carlton AFLW star and the leading goalkicker in 2017 and 2021, Darcy Vescio said climate change is an important issue that everyone should care about. “That’s why I’m pleased to have joined AFL Players for Climate Action, so that I can join with like-minded players to use our platform to speak to footy fans, our clubs and the league, and to call for urgent action.”

We’ll leave the last word on the AFL climate action initiative to Sydney AFL player, Tom Hickey: “Climate activism is essentially about just giving a shit. Giving a shit about the world we live in and the creatures on it. Climate change will affect all of us so it seems like it’s an important thing to care about and we need to take urgent action.”

Main image: @Dari via Twenty20.

Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill is a content writer with more than 30 years of experience in five countries. His style has built upon award-winning success in news and features in the print media to leadership in digital communication, spanning news websites, social media, magazines, brochures, and contributing to books. Recognising the devastating impact of consumer behaviour on the planet and wanting to help make a difference Robert launched Viable.Earth as a platform to celebrate positive contributions by brands, companies and individuals towards reducing environmental impact and improve sustainability – especially in the fields of fashion, beauty, food, lifestyle, and transportation.


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