More than 1,750 young people from across England and Wales have joined forces to help tackle environmental sustainability at their football clubs and in their communities, as part of this year’s Premier League Inspires Challenge.
The Premier League Inspires Challenge empowers participants to take on a social action project and make a difference to the world around them.
This season, young people were tasked with considering what environment sustainability challenges football clubs might face. More than 500 young people joined the annual challenge with Newcastle United Foundation and pupils from Duke’s Secondary School developed a winning project to enhance and improve North East wildfire areas and nature reserves.
Through using recycled materials from matchdays at St. James’ Park, the team created bird boxes and bug hotels to improve biodiversity. Newcastle United’s Sean Longstaff recently worked with the Duke’s students to paint bird boxes in the club’s iconic black and white stripes.
Matty Tumilty, NU Futures Careers Coordinator at Newcastle United Foundation, said: “Since starting our delivery of the Premier League Inspires programme in 2019, we’ve supported 2,177 young people to develop existing and gain new personal skills through more than 4,000 sessions in 23 North East schools.
“Our PLI Challenge Launch event was a great opportunity for our participants to not only learn and support the local environment and wildlife, but also the repurposing of waste materials.
“The project also saw us place a bug hotel at Newcastle United’s Training Centre, with bird boxes added to the school’s nature area and a living wall at Newcastle University’s Helix Energy site.”
Having come up with their environmental social action ideas, participants joined one of five regional celebration events taking place at football clubs across the country, where they shared details of their activity with teams of their peers representing 44 clubs from across the Premier League and the English Football League.
Newcastle United Foundation Premier League Inspires Challenge team also explored the positive work that Newcastle United and Equans is already doing to tackle climate change, including how the club are looking to improve their position in the PL Sustainability League and Equans’ work with Newcastle City Council to improve sustainability in the city.
The Premier League became a signatory of the UN Sports for Climate Action framework in 2021 and aims to reduce its own emissions by 50% before 2030 and achieve net- zero emissions by 2040, in line with the 1.5 degrees global warming limit of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Premier League Head of Sustainability, Will Hutton, said: “Environmental sustainability is of great importance to the Premier League and our clubs, and we recognise the need to take action on climate change.
“We must all play our part in this important issue, and through the Premier League Inspires Challenge young people have come up with some brilliant ideas to help build upon the great work already under way at clubs. I hope these young people can continue to build on these ideas to help drive positive environmental sustainability action in school, at home and in their communities.”
Launched in 2019, Premier League Inspires creates life-changing opportunities for young people who have been identified by their schools as needing extra support to engage with activities, helping them to develop the personal skills and positive attitudes needed to succeed in life.
Using the power of football, the programme helps to prepare young people for further education and employment through a series of face-to-face mentoring sessions, workshops and social-action projects.
This season, 44 professional football club community organisations across the Premier League and English Football League are delivering Premier League Inspires sessions at their stadiums, in local schools and at alternative educational settings, with partnership support from the Professional Footballers’ Association.
More than 25,300 young people from across England and Wales have received more than 104,00 hours of targeted support through the programme to date.