Rugby League club scores a world first by planting a tree for every shirt sale

Jake Webster in Keighley Cougars new away kit

Trailblazing rugby league team, Keighley Cougars are leading the fight against climate change off the pitch, by becoming the first sports club in the world to plant a tree for every shirt the club sells during the upcoming rugby league season.

The Betfred League 1 club unveiled its new kit this week, which features a leaf motif complete with the slogan ‘there is no planet B’ on the front of the shirt, alongside the logos of long-term sponsors, Timothy Taylor’s, Acorn Stairlifts, Airedale Shopping Centre, GM Engineering, Ultimate Commercial Interiors and John W Laycock.

The new shirt continues to feature the Progress Pride Flag on its sleeve, to show support for the LGBTQ+ community and promote inclusivity in sport. This was introduced last year, when the club became the first sports team in the world to include the flag on its kit.

In 2019 the Cougars also hosted a Pride Game, beating West Wales Raiders 50-18, wearing a special rainbow kit amid a carnival atmosphere. Money from each shirt sale went to LGBTQ+ organisation, The Proud Trust. Prior to this, The Cougars wore a pink kit in support of Breast Cancer Awareness, with a donation from each shirt sale going to the charity.

The Cougars’ latest initiative will now see thousands of trees planted, after the club joined forces with MoreTrees, which works with tree planting partners across the world who work with local communities to restore healthy forests and reduce poverty.

As well as sequestering CO2 emissions, MoreTrees’ work helps to provide co-benefits in the areas where it operates, such as improving water filtration, shelter, food sources, poverty alleviation and biodiversity.

Ryan O’Neill, co-owner and director at Keighley Cougars, said: “In recent years Keighley Cougars’ shirts have pushed the boundaries, successfully raising money for Breast Cancer Awareness and promoting equality. Our shirts are a powerful platform and in addition to being popular with our fans, we now regularly sell them to people across the UK, who aren’t even interested in sport, but they like our designs and what the shirts stand for, which is a fantastic endorsement for what we’re doing.

“Our new tree planting initiative is particularly exciting for Keighley Cougars. Everyone knows there are huge benefits to planting trees, and this is a way for our club and our fans to play a part in the fight against climate change, as well as supporting a community and an environment, in another part of the world, that will really benefit from our help.

“We’re extremely proud to provide our support and with the help of our fans, we’re looking forward to planting thousands of trees over this coming season.”

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