26 Feb. 2021
Handball is not only a sport, but can also be a platform to improve the standard of life and inspire goodness and change all over the world.
Scientifically, climate change has already proven, with the average temperature of the planet rising by 1.18 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century, while ice sheets throughout Antarctica have retreated, the continent losing approximately 148 billion tons of ice per year.
The change is in our hands and this is exactly the idea behind the ‘Zone Verte’ project, launched by The Professional Handball Players Association in France (AJPH) this week.
‘Zone Verte’, roughly translated as ‘The Green Zone’ in English, was pitched by French left back Robin Molinié, currently at US Créteil Handball, and has pinpointed several objectives, one of which is to stop the use of plastic throughout the French League by 2022.
“We are thoroughly optimistic, because we really felt that players are chiming in and trying to do their best for this project. This is an actual matter, an actual subject, we are all feeling what is happening. But we do not want to be the ones giving a lecture, we just want to help things get better in a logical way,” said Molinié to ihf.info.
An idea one year in
Molinié approached the AJPH one year ago with the idea of developing a more sustainable way of recycling plastic and waste in the French league. It immediately hit the right tone with the league’s managers, “a real interest”, is how Molinié put it.
“This is a project who has been launched by players and is trying to help everyone buy into it. It is about players, coaches, clubs, everybody who can help,” added Molinié.
Each club in the French league has chosen an ambassador for the project and ‘Zone Verte’ is now represented by true French stars.
Paris Saint-Germain Handball has chosen left back Nikola Karabatic, the three-time IHF World Player of the Year. Montpellier’s Argentinian creative centre back Diego Simonet, Saint-Raphaël VHB’s left wing Raphael Caucheteux and Nantes goalkeeper Cyril Dumoulin are also directly linked to the project.
? @NKARABATIC et @robinmolinie ont un message pour vous ?— AJPH (@AJPHandball) February 26, 2021
? Nous sommes fiers de nous engager aux côtés de la @LNHofficiel et des clubs dans la lutte contre le plastique à usage unique
?#ZoneVerte, un programme à l'initiative des joueurs et soutenu par le handball pro! pic.twitter.com/zcaaIoW3R8
“Almost all the clubs have joined the project. For the players, it is about promoting an eco-responsible demeanour, both as a player and in their private lives. It is about the player acting as a role model,” explained Molinié, who himself is an ambassador for the project for his US Creteil side.
The replacement of plastic bottles
The first change to be made thanks to the ‘Zone Verte’ project, effective immediately, will be to replace the normal plastic bottles from which players drink their refreshments before and during the games with reusable jugs.
The game between Sélestat Alsace Handball and Strasbourg Eurométropole Handball, from the French second league, scheduled on Friday, will be the first-ever professional game where plastic bottles will be banned.
“The main idea is to reflect on how we, as players, impact the environment, with our plastic bottles, recyclable materials, but both on how we make the trips to the games and how we eat. I hope that all players, coaches and clubs will realise that we can make a change and become eco-responsible,” concluded Robin Molinié.
With the first steps having already been made, it is now up to the players and the league on how they continue to implement this pilot project.
Yet with role models already lining up to help, the success looks to be guaranteed in helping the AJPH and the French leagues to become pioneers in helping handball lend a hand to truly make a change.
For more information about ‘Zone Verte’, visit the official website.