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Sunday, May 26 2019 @ 10:32 pm ACST

Football stars not afraid to tackle global environmental issues

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A new initiative, which has enlisted big name sports identities including olympic gold medallists Ian Thorpe and Alisa Camplin and Tour de France cycling star Cadel Evans, Sport 4 the Environment, is aimed at helping Australian sports clubs and organisations to implement their own environmental policy.

Among them are two AFL stars representing the sport of Australian Football. The Collingwood Magpies' Shane Wakelin and Sydney Swan Brett Kirk are both now officially environmental ambassadors for the AFL.

Wakelin, a South Australian, is a long time supporter of environmental issues. A keen bicycle rider and advocate for public transport, Wakelin is well publicised as catching the train to home games at the MCG while his teammates drive, and features in advertisements for Melbourne's public transport provider Connex. Brett Kirk, of New South Wales, nicknamed "Hippy" by his teammates, is a well known Buddhist who has had the honour of meeting with the Dalai Lama, and is also a big supporter of environmental initiatives. Other sports stars to back the program include basketball's Shane Heal and the NRL's Robbie Kearns. Wakelin, along with AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, threw their weight behind the launch of the Sport 4 The Environment program in Melbourne.

Many believe that climate change is responsible for the severe drought which for over a decade has effected many parts of Australia - especially traditional Aussie Rules areas of Victoria and South Australia. The newly elected Australian government's rush to sign the Kyoto agreement shows how seriously many now take this issue. Some people involved in grassroots football are already feeling the effects of this drought, with clubs having to sit out entire seasons as competitions are cancelled due to hard, dry grounds. Sport 4 The Environment's initiatives include sustainability grants for such things as the installation of water tanks and recycled water in club rooms.

The new initiative has been featured in Melbourne's Herald Sun, in article Ian Thorpe eyes climate change goal and the Sydney Morning Herald's Thorpe backing sport environment program.

Visit the website at www.sport4theenvironment.com.au

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