Developing The Case For Pro-Environmental Practices In Community-Based Association Football In England

Carmichael, Andrew orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-9540-2114 (2019) Developing The Case For Pro-Environmental Practices In Community-Based Association Football In England. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This thesis proposes the development of pro-environmental practices within football in order to reduce the sport's environmental impact. While research into the relationship between sport and the environment is growing, it remains largely focused upon the professional, commercial, and spectacular elite sector of sport. Much of the sport and environment literature, and advice provided by sport governing bodies, is written from the perspective that individual-centric models of behaviour are absolute and self-help can achieve desirable outcomes. Instead football should be considered as a social practice and the way to achieve change is to examine the relationships between the elements that contribute towards the creation of that practice.

Qualitative methods, comprising interviews and a period of participatory action research, involving the researcher undertaking a consultancy role within a community-based football club, were used to identify the extent of the problems facing such organisations. Collaborative efforts were made to reduce the environmental impact of the club via a range of practical measures. A shortage of resources, both human and financial, an absence of governing body programmes or initiatives to promote the environment, and a lack of control over the facilities used, were identified as barriers to this. This confirms community-based football clubs are beyond the scope of existing pro-environmental behavioural thinking, with little option in the management of their operations other than to follow existing routines.

The results illustrate the need for a wider debate on how to develop pro-environmental activity in sport and the experience of the majority of sporting organisations. Community-based football, with its many thousands of facilities, clubs and volunteers that rarely receive promotion in the mass media, can be at the forefront of developing a new approach to tackling environmental issues. This, arguably, offers the greatest challenge, but also potential opportunity, for reducing resource use in the sport and improving the environmental landscape. Drawing on social practice theory the findings from this research support the introduction of 'pro-environmental practices' in football to address the difficulties faced. This questions the existing relationships and interactions in football, and offers reflection for other sports and sectors seeking to alter their own activity.

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