The world’s most sustainable football club has secured a Premier League signing, but you won’t see him on the pitch.
Arsenal Football Club defender Hector Bellerin has become Forest Green Rovers’ second-largest shareholder, joining the club on its path to creating a sustainable future.
The 25-year-old has made the investment in the club as part of his belief that professional players have a responsibility to create awareness around environmental issues – and embrace their own platform to improve sustainability in the sport.
Bellerin has spoken in detail about his passion for conservation and his ambition to tackle climate change within society, a pledge which saw the Spaniard plant 3,000 trees for every Arsenal victory during ‘project restart’.
Bellerin said: “I was really excited when I first discovered the opportunity to get involved at Forest Green Rovers – and the brilliant work the club is already doing. It’s important that I invest in things I am passionate about – and I’m excited to help push football into having a sustainable future.
“Forest Green Rovers prove to clubs who say ‘they don’t have resources to be sustainable’ – that it is possible. With the new stadium, being carbon neutral and vegan the club is doing some mind-blowing work. People have a universal love of football, so there’s no better industry to promote sustainability – and what we can do as football supporters to be more environmentally conscious.
“I became a vegan around three years ago and at first, I just wanted to try it and detox my body. Initially, I thought I’d eat meat as a ‘treat’ – but, being vegan just worked for me. After a month of being vegan, I felt stronger – and I didn’t struggle with ankle injuries anymore. I began to feel more energetic on the pitch – and I began to notice a real difference.”
Chairman Dale Vince said: “I like Hector’s approach, his personal journey and the things he’s trying to do – they make sense. I’m looking forward to working with him on our projects at FGR and this wider agenda we have a shared interest in.”
Back in 2014, Hector lined-up against Rovers for an Arsenal XI at The New Lawn – and despite being on the winning side of a tumultuous 10-goal thriller, his visit to South Gloucestershire remained in the young, developing player’s memory.
“I remember playing a pre-season friendly against Forest Green about six years ago – but at that time, I wasn’t too aware of the path the club was taking and I was just focussing on getting into the first-team at Arsenal! I have so much respect for everything that Dale Vince is doing with the club – and he’s paving the way for everyone else in the sport.”