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Vermont Green: The new American club trying to do things differently

Vermont Green will play their home games at the University's Virtue Field in Burlington
Vermont Green will play their home games at the University’s Virtue Field in Burlington

When a group of football-loving old college buddies banged their heads together at the start of the pandemic, they were not content to just build their own club.

They would try to change the world.

Two years later, and the “half-baked” idea is now ready, with Vermont Green ready to make their debut in USL League 2 – the United States’ fourth row – against Boston City on Sunday.

The dream is to climb the country’s league system, but what sets Vermont Green apart is their belief that football can be a powerful catalyst for a more environmentally sustainable and socially just world.

“Football clubs have this unique opportunity to be a reflection of their community,” explains co-founder Matthew Wolff, best known for designing France’s 2018 World Cup winning kit and for his commitment to creating hugely popular Nigeria number from the same tournament.

“Part of the mission is to inspire clubs around the country that are in divisions higher than us and see if they can make environmental justice and environmental responsibility a central part of running a football club.”

Vermont Green interprets environmental justice as being a fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people – regardless of race, color, national origin or income – when it comes to developing, implementing and enforcing environmental laws, regulations and policies.

It is also a social movement that fights for equal distribution of environmental benefits and burdens.

“It puts the human face on environmental issues,” says co-founder Keil Corey. “I first go to climate change because 76% of the state is really concerned about climate change. We come from a place where culture already exists.

“We need to do more education about the human aspect of how climate change puts a disproportionate burden on marginalized societies. Most often, these societies have contributed the least to the problem.”

Vermont Green logo
Vermont Green logo as they begin life in the American fourth layer

To achieve their goals, the club has set five goals: become net zero, combat systemic racism, commit to donate 1% of their annual sales to environmentally friendly non-profit organizations, procure goods using recycled or recycled materials, and continue to educate and raise awareness how to influence change.

Corey has generally found that younger people are more aware of the broader issues. He also believes that people relate best to examples that have a direct impact on their locality. In Vermont, just south of the Canadian-US border, he says residents understand the need to protect the environment due to industries such as fishing, hunting and deforestation in the state.

“Football is a really good tool to talk about these things,” he adds. “You can share the lived experiences of players or staff or members of the local community.

“It’s so much more compelling than polar bears. No insult to them – I love them and want them to survive – but it just does not quite correspond to anyone living in Vermont because they do not live next to polar bears. .

“We hope to use our platform to get more people to use their voice and then start acting like calculating your CO2 footprint, understanding exactly what it is, and starting the journey with us.”

‘Krister and kits a gateway drug’

Co-founder Matthew Wolff with Vermont's first signature Oliver Martin
Co-founder Matthew Wolff, left, with Vermont’s first signing Oliver Martin

The club’s ethos is popular and attracts interest from the local community and elsewhere – they have spoken to English club Forest Green Rovers, received interest from companies sharing a similar goal, prompting players from across the United States to contact for trials because they agreed with the club’s mission.

As one might expect with Wolff involved, the club’s merchandise is also proving a hit.

“Forces and sets can be a bit of a gateway to football addiction, especially in the United States, where the sport is in its teens,” said Wolff, who also worked at Paris St-Germain and Jordan Brand. Cooperation.external link

“Designing emblems for clubs around the country has given me a really interesting place at the table, especially for new clubs trying to define their identity.

“By being able to see how it was done in Chicago Fire, LAFC and New York City FC, I have been able to gather some knowledge along the way and experience on how to start a club from scratch and build an identity.”

The club’s founders are financing the project themselves, and as Vermont Green enters their inaugural season, they understand that there are plenty of lessons to be learned both on and off the field.

“The common belief that sustainability is more expensive no longer really applies to many things,” Corey explains. “It’s more of a time commitment.”

Wolff adds: “The path we have chosen is to make any business decision with environmental responsibility in mind, so whether it’s our clothing program or our kits or our partners, we hold ourselves to a high standard.”

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