PtG Article 02.02.2023

Play the Game launches guide and academy course on sport and climate change

Writer and academic David Goldblatt has written a guide that maps the sport and climate space for those who want to join the debate, and he also teaches the first course at Play the Game Academy on sport in Africa and climate change.

The relationship between sport and climate change is an emerging field of sports politics, and now Play the Game publishes a guide that maps out the sport and climate space for anyone who wants to join the debate. At the same time, Play the Game launches a Play the Game Academy with an inaugural course on African sport and the climate crisis.

The guide is published in the form of a theme page on and as a report and is written by writer, academic, journalist and activist David Goldblatt. Over the last two years he has written and spoken widely on sport and the climate crisis, and he has helped found and is now chair of 'Football For Future' that campaigns for environmental sustainability in English football.

The guide draws on an extensive body of academic and journalistic work in order to

  • introduce key points from the main bodies of research data on climate threats to sport as well as sports' own carbon emissions
  • provide an overview of the new climate policies and systems of governance in global sport
  • map the responses to the climate crisis from international and national federations, leagues, and NGOs
  • provide examples of innovations in the field
  • introduce readers to the main areas of debate and contention such as carbon offsets, the role of the fossil fuel industry, and the lack of attention to the global south.

It is designed first and foremost as a guide for those new to the debate, and it includes suggestions for further reading on all main topics.

Guide forms the basis for Play the Game Academy course

The guide on sport and climate change has also formed the basis for the first course in Play the Game's new activity, Play the Game Academy, under the heading 'An introduction to African sport and the climate crisis'.

The objective of Play the Game Academy is to explore the potential in offering online courses on a regular basis about current issues in sport where the emphasis is on building and sharing knowledge between the teacher and participants and creating networks for future collaboration.

"For some time we have been thinking about learning activities as a way to enable the wider Play the Game community to engage with critical, political issues in sport between our conferences, ideally in a way that mirrors the conference experience of being exposed to new information and at the same time build networks across professional backgrounds,” says Jens Sejer Andersen, international director of Play the Game.

The collaboration with David Goldblatt about the guide on sport and climate change led to the conception of a first course that focuses on Africa and the global south where participants will use concepts and knowledge introduced in the guide to explore how African sport is affected by the climate crisis and can respond to it.

To recruit participants from across the African continent, Play the Game has partnered with the international social enterprise organisation The Football Foundation for Africa (FFA).

The first cohort includes 30 participants with backgrounds in media, NGOs, sports organisations, and academia and hailing from eight different countries, including Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda.

A need for more knowledge about African sport and climate change

Brian Wesaala, founder and project leader for The Football Foundation for Africa, points out that Africa has experienced the impact of climate change at all levels of sport, from grassroots to elite sport, with one example being the extreme temperatures during the last two editions of the African Cup of Nations.

"Yet, the relationship between the climate crisis and African sports is hugely undocumented. We can attribute this to the fact that the African sports industry is still underdeveloped and fragmented, and Africa accounts for the lowest share of carbon emissions at 3.8 per cent," says Wesaala.

He hopes that participants in the Play the Game Academy course can build knowledge and networks that can support efforts among stakeholders in African sport in tackling the climate crisis. 

"There is heightened interest and investment in developing the continent’s sports industry with competitions such as the Basketball Africa League and the planned African Super League. It is crucial to factor in the climate impact to establish a more resilient and sustainable sports ecosystem, from the sponsors and partners we bring on board to the design of sports infrastructure and events and using sport as a platform for advocacy on climate issues," says Wesaala.

The course runs from 7 to 28 February with four online seminars and learning activities in between.

Read more about Play the Game Academy

Academy logo
Play the Game Academy

See the theme page on sport and climate change

PtG Theme

Sport and climate change