In a press release last Friday, Forest Green Rovers announced its new kit: “a world first made from bamboo, proudly sporting nature’s original camo – the zebra stripe”.
Club owner and chairman Dale Vince has set out to create a totally vegan club and his efforts have not gone unnoticed. It is recognised as the world’s greenest football club by both FIFA and UEFA, and this achievement takes the concept of a vegan athlete and sportsman to a whole new level.
This new kit fits with that brand. Very much inspired by nature, the kit is an evolution of the club’s famous green and black hoops with a design inspired by the animal’s natural camouflage. This home kit is a green and black zebra pattern, whilst the away kit prefers a black-on-black zebra look.
It’s not hard to see how a football team could benefit from the effects of zebra camouflage. A zebra dazzle can bamboozle predators thus preventing them from attacking. The zebra’s striping also makes it harder for others to judge their speed and direction.
The new shirts are the first in football to be made from bamboo which is a fast-growing, super sustainable material. This club’s kit uses a 50% bamboo mix thereby drastically reducing the use of plastic. The result is a 100% sustainable high-performance sportswear developed in partnership with PlayerLayer.
The club’s conservation partner Sea Shepherd, a marine charity, also features in the new design. Their skull and crossbones will adorn the back of every shirt. Furthermore, plant-based milk partner Oatly sponsors the shorts, with their logo appearing on the back of every pair.
Dale Vince, chairman, Forest Green Rovers, said: “We’ve taken inspiration from nature with our new kit – from the zebra stripes to the sustainable materials. I was pretty shocked when I found out that modern sportswear is actually made from plastic – that feels wrong to me, not just from the sustainability point of view, but for performance too.”
Every vegan’s favourite football club?
The Rovers appear to be the only vegan football club in the world and have the world’s first U.N. certified carbon-neutral sports club for good measure. Its stadium is 100% green energy powered.
Vince says: “we have fan clubs in 20 countries around the world. Some for our football and some for our stance on the environment. I find it pretty exciting that we created not only a new kind of football club, but a new kind of football fan, too.”
Vince is also the CEO of vegan electricity company Ecotricity. He purchased the club in 2011 and set about integrating total sustainability by installing an entirely organic field, 180 rooftop solar panels that provide 10 per cent of the stadium’s electricity. In 2015, the club became the world’s first vegan stadium only serving vegan food. The players only consume vegan food when at the club and fans can only buy vegan food on match days. It’s quite a change from the old football tradition of meat pies and Bovril.
Chairman Dale Vince has been described as a “£100m hippy with wind in his turbines and Quorn in his burgers”. No doubt vegans around the world will be cheering Forest Green Rovers on.