Australian cricketer Pat Cummins has been crowned Athlete of the Year at the BBC Green Sport Awards.
The awards, which are in partnership with the Sport Positive Summit and available to watch on BBC iPlayer and across the BBC Sport website, celebrate individuals and organisations from around the world who are using their sporting profile to encourage the shift to a more sustainable future.
The professional cricketer, who captained Australia’s side at the Ashes this summer, won the award for his leadership on climate issues in cricket and more broadly across Australia.
His work includes public advocacy and in the last 12 months alone Cummins, who founded the Cricket for Climate foundation, has supported a number of initiatives that show his dedication to driving change.
These include supporting the installation of solar systems at over four local cricket clubs, hosting the inaugural Cricket for Climate Impact Summit and backing the launch of the South Australian Cricket Association Sustainability Roadmap.
‘I feel like there is hope, because there is a lot of solutions to move away from fossil fuels or moving towards more renewable sources. To be able show that we’ve made a small difference, we’ve made some good actions, it’s not just about words, that makes me really proud.’
BBC Green Sport Awards 2023 Athlete of the Year
Back in the UK, Innes FitzGerald has scooped up the award for Young Athlete of the Year.
The cross-country runner from Devon has emerged as a bold activist over the past 12 months.
She won the award after declining to take part in the World Cross Country Championships in Australia due to concerns about the impact of flying on the environment.
‘I feel like it’s a real privilege [receiving this award]. I never set out to achieve awards from this, I just wanted
to raise awareness about climate related issues within the athletics and sporting world.
‘Trying to get up and coming athletes to think about what they’re doing and their impacts on the climate as well.’
BBC Green Sport Awards 2023 Young Athlete of the Year
This year’s Evergreen Athlete award went to former Major League Baseball player Chris Dickerson.
Chris has been recognised for his work building awareness of the climate crisis and plastic pollution.
This includes founding the Players for the Planet foundation in 2008, which has created a number of initiatives to positively help the environment – such as beach clean-ups and recycling at stadiums.
‘[I’m] Honoured for this award. It’s great having these meaningful chats to move progress forward and I truly appreciate it.’
BBC Green Sport Awards 2023 Evergreen Athlete
Forest Green Rovers Football Club (FGR FC) has been awarded Elite Organisation of the Year.
The EFL League 2 team, which became the world’s first vegan football club in 2015, has continued to lead the way sustainability with sport.
Forest Green Rovers’ stadium is powered by 100% green energy, with solar panels on the roof of the stands, and there are no single-use plastics on site. Rainwater is harvested to prevent water waste and the team travels on an electric coach.
‘It’s a good feeling [to achieve the award] and it’s a good example of something that helps to propel us. There’s recognition around the award and it helps to carry our message around the world. It’s all part of our progress.’
Forest Green Rovers Football Club
Winning this year’s Grassroots Organisation of the Year is Rhino Cup Champions League (RCCL).
Over the last year the league, which is across Africa, has continued its work on wildlife conservation.
The RCCL uses the popularity of football to forge a connection between the youth in rural communities and the protection of rhinos, as well as offering social and economic benefits for the communities.
‘The Rhino Cup League came from how can we help stop young men from going into the wildlife reserve and risking their lives and the lives of animals to kill that animal for profit. What we’re doing with the Rhino Cup Champions League is we’re bringing something they love [but] from the wildlife – the Rhino Cup Champions League is a football league brought to you by your local rhinoceros – and that is bringing so much. It’s bringing compassion, happiness, hope and love.’
Rhino Cup Champions League