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Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

What would you ask John Amaechi?

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Next week I’m interviewing ex-NBA star John Amaechi for 3BL TV on his views of CSR & sport and I though it’d be fun to crowd source some questions or topics to put to him.

For those who don’t know who he is, here’s a brief introduction:

John Amaechi is a psychologist, New York Times best-selling Author and social entrepreneur working in both the US and the Europe. His work is mostly in industrial/organisational settings with medium to large institutions: business, educational and philanthropic, to help them maximise their human capital.

Oh, and he played more than a little basketball too. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by davidcoethica

May 5, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Spotlight on Africa: Coaching for Conservation

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March has definitely been a month of sport around these parts. Meetings at a Premier League club, Sport and Social Responsibility Summit, Beyond Sport application deadline extensions and most importantly I actually made time to start running again!

I recently wrote a post about a great UK based social enterprise I’m involved with called Kick 4 Change and how they are engaging in proceedings for the forthcoming World Cup in South Africa.

Today I want to take a quick look at a grassroots sport project engaging local communities in Africa itself, in Botswana to be more specific. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s not about the ball

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Ok, just in case you didn’t know I’ll make my position very clear right from the start. Sport and Corporate Social Responsibility aren’t well acquainted, and I’m feeling generously polite today.

Don’t get me wrong both the quantity and quality of aspects of sporting community engagement can be fantastic, but after a day at the Cass Business School sponsored Sport and Social Responsibility Summit I was left reminded yet again of the tunnel vision that many sport related organisations use when considering the wider Corporate Social Responsibility spectrum. Read the rest of this entry »

3BL TV – new CSR & Sustainability video channel

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The latest stage in the evolution of CSR and Sustainability communications is unleashed upon the world today…

3BL TV, the first online CSR TV channel has now been launched!

Head over to check out news, opinion, interviews and all the latest CSR and sustainability trends from great experts such as Chris Jarvis, Christine Arena, Elaine Cohen, Fabian Pattberg, oh, and yours truly (including new photo!).

The site is fresh out of the box today and already features Chris J’s CSR Unscripted report on corporate volunteering, Elaine’s ‘women washing’ and Christine’s interview with Gil Friend, and not forgetting Emily Polk’s daily CSR Minute round-up.

With new videos added daily 3BL TV is redefining the way responsible business communications is distributed and consumed

Send your friends to the new website and share the CSR dream team’s new adventure into video!

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Kick 4 Change warming up for the World Cup

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Kick 4 Change logo

Apart from Coethica and the numerous good cause hats I wear when I can on my travels, my favourite project I’m involved with advising is Kick 4 Change. I stumbled across Jamie Tosh & Simon Brown’s venture last year and immediately offered to help. Their innovative model combining sport, social enterprise and retail instantly caught my attention, and I thought it was about time to bring the dynamic duo behind K4C to you.

I’m a big fan and know you’ll appreciate their hard work, their approach and the potential, especially in 2010 the year of the World Cup in South Africa for this very worthy initiative. Here’s their responses to a few quick questions I posed to provide you with an overview and ways that you too can also play your part in helping Jamie & Simon achieve their goals (couldn’t help the pun).


What problem is Kick 4 Change trying to solve?

We have three main areas that we are supporting.

1. Increased sports provision and funding in the UK.
2. Introducing enterprise into schools
3. Poverty and HIV prevention in developing countries

 How is your model going to solve this problem?

1. We are looking to support the delivery of sports provision within schools and sports clubs across the UK. Sport is increasingly being recognised as a vehicle for tackling child obesity, social inclusion and anti social behaviour. We have created our own sports brand (4sport) that is affordable and accessible to all, irrespective of race, demographic or indeed ability. We support the provision of sport by re-investing all our profits back into schools, clubs and community initiatives. In effect, our football boots can be used as a sustainable revenue stream for organisations that use sport to engage with children.

2. Our products also lend themselves to be used as a vehicle for introducing an enterprise culture into the national curriculum. We have created a concept called ‘Business in a Box’ that allows children to gain hands on business skills, whilst making a profit for themselves at the same time.

3. The final problem we are addressing is HIV prevention in developing countries. We have partnered with four charities in Africa who all use sport as a building block of social change. Each uses our boots to engage with children and educate them in issues such as AIDS awareness, HIV prevention and basic life skills such as self esteem and respect for others.

What is your biggest obstacle to success?

The biggest obstacle is accessing the necessary funding in time, enabling us to bring all plans to fruition.

What help you do need?

We believe many of our initiatives lend themselves to CSR involvement. We can offer opportunities for colleague engagement and volunteering within schools and charities, both in the UK and abroad. Funding, resources and contacts would all be useful!

Who is on your ‘would like to meet’ wish list for K4C?

We’d love to meet decision makers within appropriate corporate organisations who may be interested in speaking to us about our plans, and how they could potentially get involved. 
What has been the highlight of your journey so far?

The undoubted highlight was out trip to South Africa and Lesotho in August 2009. We used the trip to forge key charity partnerships and also donate 350 pairs of our new boots to them. Playing with the children and seeing the way sport gives them a release from their everyday struggles was a real joy, and a very humbling experience.

How are you going to use the platform that this summer’s World Cup in South Africa will provide?

We are using the World Cup as a backdrop for a global legacy campaign we have recently launched. Based on the venue of the World Cup final, we have mocked up a virtual stadium and are selling virtual seats within it. Every seat purchased represents a brand new pair of boots that we’ll send over to our charity partners. If we fill the stadium, we’ll be sending over 94,700 pairs of new boots to underprivileged children. The campaign allows schools to use our free materials to introduce pupils to the concept of global citizenship, whilst fundraising in a fun, topical and educational way. The campaign also allows for businesses to get involved from a CSR level, with a number of creative sponsorships and headline opportunities that will lead to exciting PR opportunities.

The campaign is called PledgeMySeat and further details can be viewed at www.pledgemyseat.org


So there you have it. A great project, great people and great potential. I’m almost getting the football bug again thanks to these guys.

Please be generous with any contacts, suggestions for raising their profile you may have by leaving a comment, or spread the word via the bookmarking buttons below.


Great article published today (3rd March 2010) on Justmeans.com by Amelia Timbers – Kick 4 Change Scores for Sports CSR

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Written by davidcoethica

February 27, 2010 at 1:04 am

A Green Football Pitch?

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Green BallHere are a few questions about professional football (or soccer to those in the USA) that have piqued my CSR interest recently and need answering.

29.9 million* people attended a professional game in the UK last season – That’s one hell of a carbon footprint. How big is it, who cares and what is being done?

• Football related media is now dominated by gambling, alcohol and fast food brands – Is it really the right image for its large impressionable younger audience?

• Financial sustainability – How has football dealt with the recession and the impact of the  influx of foreign ownership?

• Community projects – Football is quite aloof about its community programmes but is it just shallow PR or inefficient waste of money?

* Deloitte’s Annual Review of Football Finance 2009


Let’s get one thing straight from the start, football is not by any stretch of the imagination the best training ground for great business leaders with vision. As soon as you walk into the entrance of any football facility the ‘mist’ descends. It has improved, but football is still awash with tribalism and an over abundance of testosterone effecting decisions. Football has the power to attract even the sanest people into roles that frequently churn up employees and spit them out onto the surreal merry-go-round within the industry. Ever seen a job advertised for a football club? Elvis gets spotted more.

I’ll get through each of the questions over a couple of posts throughout the season and keep one eye on any potential influence coming from the World Cup 2010 in South Africa and the London Olympics 2012.


Let’s start with the biggest picture…

Climate change and football – nope, you’ve probably never heard that combination of words before or will anytime soon. Considering the industry’s global impact and size of audience that scares and saddens me. Environmental issues only rarely make it onto the team sheet. Here are a few direct significant aspects that football collectively needs to immediately deliver improvements on:

• 29.9 million journeys to and from stadia, with many by car. Clubs don’t care how fans get there, just how they spend their cash when they do.

• Millions of pies warmed, beers chilled and match-day programmes & tickets printed, plus undersoil heating and floodlights all burning fuel.

• Millions of litres of water required for a 92 stadium pitches in addition to hundreds of acres of training and Academy facilities.

• 29.9 million people all flushing a toilet (but not at the same time – although sometimes the queues suggest otherwise).

• Thousands of tonnes of beer bottles, pie trays, soft drink cans, waste food, used tickets and merchandise wrapping mostly sent to landfill.

…and that is without considering the impact of suppliers and contractors, local authorities, Police, and hundreds of match day staff.


The biggest problem for the environment from football is that nobody is taking responsibility. The Clubs themselves should but I’ve already touched on the lack of foresight at most managerial (of administration not playing staff) levels. To avoid getting a yellow card here, I have to say that some clubs have taken their first steps, but not many at all, and not far enough. You’re lucky to unearth a basic environmental policy, so don’t bother looking for ISO 14001. Clubs only care about the traditional revenue streams not the ones with water in them.

It isn’t high on the strategy radar of the governing bodies either, and it can get quite confusing who does what (or would like to) out of the Premier League, Football Association, Professional Footballers Association, Football League and other peripheral organisations. As footballs largest single financier, SKY TV does proclaim carbon neutrality, so maybe they should give the clubs a half time roasting in the changing room. I’d pay to watch that in HD.

Business in the Community tried to influence the sporting world with their ‘Clubs That Count’ programme, which I advised on during the early stages but alas, that sadly fizzled out after only a couple of years due to a lack of interest from the clubs. I was always keen on a community / environment / ethical league competition but the rest of the clubs didn’t want to be on the bottom of any table!

Somebody needs to grab those running the game by the scruff of the neck and enforce improvement across all environmental areas. Football is mistaken to think that by doing, in real terms, a mediocre job of community engagement (which could be so much more inclusive and effective) it can offset their other responsibilities.

There is no extra-time for the enviroment, only penalties.

Beyond Sport Summit – Desmond Tutu Impersonates Bono

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Highlights of the Beyond Sport Summit, London, July 9th 2009.

tutu_flagIt’s been well over 3 years since I left Everton Football Club and the England Amputee Squad to set up Coethica and sport has been something of an absent friend. The worlds of professional sport and embedded CSR have never truly been properly introduced. There are pockets of excellent community engagement but much room for improvement.

On the top floor of City Hall in London during a beautiful summer’s evening I stood surrounded by the great and the good of sport, government, business and charity. I was at the Beyond Sport London Legacy Awards as part of a inaugural Beyond Sport Summit. The highlight of the evening, apart from Ebony Horse Club winning the £60,000 prize was the vision that was the handshake between the eccentric Mayor of London Boris Johnson, a slightly hunched figure with bright blond hair dried in a wind tunnel and Dikembe Mutombo, an ex-professional basketball player standing at least 7ft 6in wearing shoes that were a length a clown would envy.

The next day was my focus but the third in a programme of events aimed at highlighting the role that sport does and could play in society. I wasn’t really sure what to expect as I’d never heard of the Summit until I was directed to the website and found myself hopefully impressed with the format, the partners and especially the speakers. With brands such as TIME, Virgin, Barclays and UNICEF paired with personalities like ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, Desmond Tutu, Lord Puttnam CBE, Ian Thorpe, Michael Johnson, Kofi Annan and Richard Branson as only highlights, I had to find out more!

The main conference day was introduced by Beyond Sport supremo Nick Keller and compared by the wonderfully passionate Kevin Carroll. The day began well with Tony Blair coming over confidently and nailing the theme for the day with “Sport has the capacity to transcend your own personal environment” which was a much welcome breath of fresh air over the old ‘power of sport’ cliché, even if it is true.

I love the film Chariots of Fire, and its Director and ex-President of UNICEF UK, Lord Puttnam, offered jaw dropping statistics from a global perspective such as  “93% worlds problems are caused by men” defining the need for the education of women & girls through sport and making half the room feel guilty. I was eagerly anticipating his opinion of the relationship of Barcelona Football Club and UNICEF, with their at the time unique shirt sponsorship agreement. Lord Puttnam found it hard to hide a wry smile when stating that in many ways it was “The greatest investment Barca ever made” and even more so when gloating “the Barcelona players were proud to wear UNICEF on their shirts. Were the players at Manchester United as happy with AIG on theirs?” I wonder if we’ll ever find out how much indirect additional revenue was generated by such a relationship for both parties? Not so much “show me the money” but more of “show me the way to the money” (with a nice added twist of morals).

Having broken 22 world records, Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe obviously knows how to get through water, quickly. Although the success in the pool was stunningly impressive, I was even more astonished to learn that he set up his own charity at the meagre age of eighteen called Fountain of Youth. His passion and eloquence shone brighter than any gold medal as he set off like a ‘Thorpedo’ on a 15 minute mission to educate the audience about the plight of Aboriginal life expectancy against a backdrop of Australian politics.

Throughout the proceedings, and it was refreshing to have them spread out in bitesize chunks, there were many commendable projects receiving gongs. Amongst the list was the ‘Best CSR in Sport’ Award going to Deloitte’s for their Disability Sport Programme, which didn’t exactly impress from the information provided, but then it’s an area I know a little about and I’m not easily impressed without thorough evidence. For a full list of winners and nominees please take the time to visit the Beyond Sport website for inspiration.

Doug Ulman, CEO of Livestrong brought a more sombre moment to the event with a very personal account of the  ‘3 scariest words you can hear – you have cancer.’  A brief word from the man himself, back in the saddle to raise the profile of cancer awareness once more, was relayed via recorded video as he was a little busy with a race or something in France.

After an embarrassingly botched introduction that almost had Lewis Pugh introducing Lewis Pugh (including stern command vocally projected toward those in charge of the media), The Human Polar Bear gave us a fantastic story of his record 1km swim (in just Speedos!) at the North Pole. If you think you could do that I’d like to give you a few example temperatures; your local indoor swimming pool is about 27 degrees, the English Channel is about 18, the water around the sinking Titanic was 5 and the North Pole is minus 1.7! ‘That’s fucking freezing!’ the environmental campaigner announced to wake up the crowd after lunch.

The man with the most infectious chuckle in the world, oh, and also one of modern day’s most prominent spiritual leaders Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, obviously enjoyed his interview by Sir Michael Parkinson. The rapport was wonderful and the discussion covered both rugby’s and cricket’s part in apartheid ‘biting the dust’. In 1995 the South African won the rugby because they had an extra player (God) with ‘90% of the crowd cheering Nelson Mandela. The same people used to call him a terrorist.’ Considering this man played such a crucial role in overcoming one of humanity’s most darkest regimes his almost childlike (especially for a man of a very respectful age) sense of fun was captivating, even for a religious sceptic such as myself. ‘I think I look like Bono’ he quipped about the stage mic along his cheek.

Many well known names played their part appearing like cameos in movies including Michael Johnson, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, HRH Prince Al Hussein of Jordan, Lucas Radebe, Rt Hon Tessa Jowel MP, Dame Kelly Holmes, Richard Branson (absent), and Kofi Annan (picking up the Humanitarian Award via video). Overall it was a fantastic inaugural event. It definitely would have benefited from more emphasis on environmental considerations, especially with Copenhagen around the corner. I for one can’t wait to find out where the next host city will be for such an entertaining and intellectually challenging summit. Well done Nick and all at Beyond Sport!


Beyond Sport Update

Want to change the world?

Today saw the launch of the new Beyond Sport World network – to join the party go to www.beyondsportworld.org


Update – Passion, Sport and Corporate Social Responsibility

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The London 2012 Olympics Organising Committee today published its Sustainable Sourcing Code.

“Potential products will be assessed based on where they come from, who made them, what they’re made of, what they are wrapped in and what will happen to them after the Games.

The code was developed over a period of 18 months in consultation with leading retailers and brands in the sustainable procurement field, sponsors, industry experts and the third sector, including the Trades Union Congress, Playfair Alliance, the Ethical Trading Initiative, WWF, Fairtrade Foundation and UNICEF. It will be reviewed and updated as necessary over time.”

The question is why is there such a massive gulf between the approach of this singular event and just about every sporting governing body or club there is?

Now they don’t even have to be innovative. Here’s the wheel, now go an not re-invent it!

Passion, Sport and Corporate Social Responsibilty

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An email yesterday about the London Olympics in 2012 and the sustainable procurement programme in place got me thinking about the overlooked absenteeism of Corporate Social Responsibilty and sustainability throughout sport, or more importantly the latent potential.

With eight years at a Premier League Club I do have an almost unique exposure to the inner machinations of a world that is a twilight zone between business and sport. It is improving but a high profile and current club Chairman once told me that “football is just a vehicle to transfer Sky TV money to players and agents” and I challenge anybody to argue. What would happen if something happened to the television money? To say all the eggs are in one basket is an understatement and never a sound revenue position to be in.

UK sport and especially football, has a worthy reputation for variations of community (in football speak = narrow group of informally defined stakeholders) engagement with every club evolving its own interpretation of the role of its community programmes though with some focusing on talent identification, sales (tickets & merchandise), PR and pure philanthropy.

I was in a meeting this morning discussing the Homeless World Cup and was staggered that a Premier League club was asking for payment to it’s charitable arm for use of resources even though this particular social group fits well within their official Objects. I’ve always had an uncomfortable feeling about the proper use of charitable status and football clubs, and believe that some could easily improve their internal governance procedures and external communication to provide much more social benefit. It just helps with PR in some places with no integrated planning into the commercial positioning of the parent club.

Sport’s biggest strength can also be its biggest weakness. Passion is an over used word by marketing people to explain how they can exploit fans (and they hardly ever use the word customer) to attempt to bridge the revenue gap between merchandise sales and TV. It’s is a murky world of emotion that scares the faint hearted away from complete engagement with passionate groups, and this is the same regardless of industry, especially around those concerned with environmental issues. There are many similarities between the passion of followers of sport and those of environmental and many individual social issues with each having particularly intense groups of stakeholders willing to do all for the cause. Could the emotional attachment to sport be used to channel other pressing messages or are football fans just fans of football? I would suggest that most just want a good day out with a good result on the pitch and to return home blissfully disconnected from distracting abstract agendas, but away from the game they are all part of families and most have jobs or study. Yes, there is a very real personaility splitting effect of watching sport and I’ve seen a fair few refined corporate gentlemen descend into a red mist over a referee’s decision only to return to a more civilised persona the next day at the office. Sporting events can attract TV and live audiences of millions with almost as many vying for a space in this shop window. How can the bigger green and local issues be made more of a priority?

There is not one club (or should I be using the word ‘business’ by now? I think club is a more accurate description) globally I am aware of that has decided to strategically implement and been successful in embedding sustainability / CSR into its operation. This isn’t a huge surprise as the majority of corporates not to mention SMEs aren’t there yet. But as a comparison from sport businesses to non-sport businesses of similar size the industry is lacking in spite of their access to a uniquely emotionally charged market.

Everton flirted like a lovesick schoolboy with Davidefc-peoples-club Moyes’ instinctive ‘People’s Club’ quote but never grasped the potential for economic and social mutual benefit.

I wonder how many clubs even have an environmental policy? Yes, some clubs have made noises about wind turbines etc and Dartford do have a pretty impressive stadium.

My not so wild guess would be overall less than 10% – opportunity or risk?

If you know better please tell me!


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