A picture of Sutton Churches tennis court

Sutton Churches Tennis Club top LTA sustainability league

Sutton Churches Tennis Club have topped a climate sustainability league set up by the Lawn Tennis Assocation (LTA) and charity Pledgeball.

The research-backed charity believes in tackling climate change through collective action, by people making more sustainable choices, or ‘pledges’.

Katie Cross, CEO of Pledgeball, believes sport is uniquely placed to do this, and Pledgeball’s recent partnership with the LTA illustrates this.

She said: “What we get through sport is we already exist as part of these teams, communities and collectives and when you put small changes into the numbers involved in sport, the impact is huge.”

The conversation around the role of sport in tackling climate change is bigger than ever in light of FIFA announcing the World Cup 2030 will be held across six countries. 

Pledgeball’s previous work had mostly been with football clubs, but when the LTA launched their Sustainability Plan in June 2022, they wanted to take their members on the journey with them.

As part of this, the LTA partnered with Pledgeball over summer to run a 12-week campaign where tennis clubs could compete against each other in a leaderboard by making sustainable pledges in support of their venue.

Sutton Churches Tennis Club, who are celebrating 100 years of the club this year, ended up topping the LTA Pledgeball League and winning prizes.

Liam McSherry, a Sutton club member for more than 10 years, was instrumental in his club adopting the Pledgeball initiative, which proved a real hit with members of all ages who enjoyed the friendly competition with other south London clubs.

He said: “Pledgeball is a great way for fans to engage in sustainability and environmental goals but in a very accessible, positive way.

“The response was incredibly positive, and judging by the number of pledges made, it really resonated with the members so it was a great result.”

Infographic outlining the types of grassroots pledges made:
Replacing floodlights with LEDs
Installing solar panels
Recycling tennis balls
Increasing local biodiversity
Reusable water bottles
Eating plant based

He outlined the simple switches he made as his pledges, such as turning the power off at the mains, vegan meals twice a week and switching to a shampoo bar, things he has continued since the campaign ended.

Beyond the campaign, he said there has been a positive knock on effect, sparking conversations at the club around recycling of tennis equipment and how to make the club more eco friendly.

He said: “Conversations are crucial for learning and it is learning that leads to action. 

“Community clubs have huge potential to make change, and a great role to play in tackling climate change.”

Premier League club Everton started their sustainability journey because one of their fans wrote in and asked what they were doing on it, so these conversations really can make a difference.

Pledgeball’s key vision is to hit the ‘golden 25%’.

It takes just 25% of a group of people adopting a new social norm for it to reach an inflection point where the rest follow, and you get a cultural shift.

Everyone can play their part, with some statistics below:

  • If one Wembley’s worth of fans reduced their shower time to five minutes, it would save the same amount of emissions as taking over 500 cars off the road.
  • If one Wembley’s worth of fans switched to using recycled toilet roll, it would save the same amount of emissions as taking over 75 cars off the road.
  • Having UK meat-eaters cut some of it out of their diet would be like taking 8 million cars off the road.

Pledgeball are currently carrying out a thorough Impact Assessment on the LTA partnership, and the findings will feed into their strategy moving forwards.

Related Articles