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Green Transformation in Sports: Embracing Sustainable Practices in Local Communities

Last February in Sežana, we hosted a pivotal conference on digitalization, sustainable development, and social responsibility, already delivering tangible outcomes. It marks a significant stride towards fostering sustainable practices and social accountability within the realm of local sports event organization.

The Green Challange initiative spearheads our efforts to engage both the local and wider sports communities in adopting sustainable approaches for organizing local sports activities. Our focus spans several crucial areas: promoting sustainable mobility, utilizing ecological packaging, cutting down on water usage and facilitating its reuse for maintaining sports facilities and showering, and opting for sustainable materials for promotional gifts and awards. Moreover, we are keen on drawing the younger generation into these processes, aiming to acquaint them with sustainable living values and the significance of safeguarding our natural and cultural heritage for future generations.

One of our traditional events, the Challanger tennis tournament held annually in June at Škibini near Lipica (Slovenia), goes beyond mere competition by offering a platform for collecting worn-out tennis balls. Prior to the tournament, in partnership with local schools, we launched an art contest allowing students to showcase their creative take on sustainable values in sports. The artwork displayed during the tournament captivated visitors, igniting conversations on sustainability's role in daily life. Our partners, including users of the Challanger platform, were also instrumental in gathering the worn-out tennis balls.

In December 2023, these collected tennis balls found a new purpose in the local primary schools of the Karst and Brkini regions, transcending mere material reuse. This initiative aimed at enlightening and engaging the younger demographic in the pursuit of sustainable solutions. A standout example of this endeavor is the Dutovlje Primary School, which has long championed sustainable practices. Under the guidance of mentor Petra Malalan, the school's response was overwhelmingly positive. Teachers and students quickly leveraged the tennis balls in both mathematics and physical education lessons, transforming them into invaluable educational tools. These balls were utilized in math exercises for counting to 10, offering a practical and engaging method to learn basic math operations, sorting, and group counting. In physical education classes, they enhanced students' manual dexterity, spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination, and instilled lessons in rule respect, patience, teamwork, and mutual support.

The Green Challange project exemplifies not just the potential for sustainable intergenerational action within local communities, but also serves as a model of collaboration among diverse sports world stakeholders (organizers, athletes, spectators, sponsors, and vendors), collectively forging a more sustainable future. This initiative represents our humble yet heartfelt contribution towards the preservation and enrichment of our local environment.

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