EUROS 2024: Can football lead to rainforest protection?

As excitement builds for Euros 2024, we’re harnessing the power of football to protect the rainforest by supporting a unique initiative in the Congo Rainforest and Basin.

We’re supporting our partners, Centre for Community Regeneration and Development (CCREAD), to use the “beautiful game” to bring together over 5,000 people from 25 communities for a yearly cross-community tournament.

But football isn’t the only thing on the agenda. The real case for bringing so many people together is to talk about rainforest protection, and in Cameroon, football has become a platform for tackling deforestation.

5 teammates sit on the sidelines watching a game of football, forest covered hills are in the distant background.

Football – the most popular sport in Cameroon and an opportunity to bring communities together.

Dr. Hilary Ewang Ngide, founder of CCREAD said, “Beyond the beautiful game, the tournament allowed open discussions about CCREAD’s conservation work, the support from charity Cool Earth, fostering understanding and connections between communities and helped us all take vital steps for successful climate action to prevent deforestation in our region.

In Cameroon, rainforest communities face issues such as large scale agriculture and industrial logging. Deforestation and encroachment into territories cause huge issues for the rainforest communities here. At the same time these communities are also facing the brunt of climate change and often experience significant social, political, and financial pressures.

Dr. Ngide continues, “Football is a unifying force. One that creates joy and safe spaces. By fostering happiness and mental and physical wellbeing, we are empowering communities to build resilience and resolve. Building connections and sparking change without fear or finger-pointing. Two of the starting blocks of climate action.”

A model for the future?

The success of CCREAD’s initiative highlights football’s potential to inspire broader climate action. As millions tune in for Euros 2024, this story offers a glimpse of leveraging the beautiful game to create a better future.

So, this June, let’s come together to support rainforest communities and to tackle deforestation.