Scoring for the environment: what Mathieu Flamini’s top-flight football career taught him about leadership

soccer

(Markus Spiske, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Beatrice Di Caro & Mathieu Flamini, Founder, GFBiochemicals S.p.A


Footballer Mathieu Flamini has played in the top leagues in England (Arsenal), Italy (AC Milan) and Spain (his current club, Getafe). The midfielder started out at Olympique de Marseille and also played for the French national team. Alongside his sporting career, his passion for the environment, and business acumen, have led him to become an eco-entrepreneur.

In 2008, Flamini launched GFBiochemicals, a company that produces eco-friendly solvents, and helped set up the first degree in ‘Bio-Economy’ in Italy. His most recent business venture, Unity, is an eco-friendly skincare brand launched with his friend, the German football star Mesut Ozil.

 

I spoke to him in Ilulissat, Greenland, where he joined 20 other Young Global Leaders on an expedition to experience some of the most dramatic impacts of climate change first hand.

What inspired you to start an eco-friendly company?

Nature has always been part of my everyday life. I grew up in Marseille, France, where the sea plays a big role in people’s lives. A big part of my family lives on the island of Corsica where I spent most of my holidays. My best childhood memories are all from these times, by the sea and next to our beautiful rivers where you can swim and refresh yourself during the summer. Traditions are very important for me, and nature is part of my heritage. This is why I feel such a strong connection to nature – and why I feel the need to stand up for it.

Why did you think it was so important to help create a degree in Bio-Economy?

Education is extremely important because it sets you free: free to make the right choices and decide what is best for you. Bio-Economy spoke to me because it is an unknown for most people and we need more teenagers deciding to pursue these studies and this journey. The chemicals industry has a huge impact on our lives and is crucial to bring solutions to problems such as plastic waste and the presence of harmful substances in our personal care/beauty products. Bio-Economy is an answer to some of these problems.

Was there anything specific from your football career that has helped you in your business career?

A football career is made of ups and downs. The hardest part is not to make it to the top but to stay at the top, and this wouldn’t be possible without hard work and dedication. Playing any sport at that level requires total commitment: not only physically but also mentally.

Performance plays a big role in any athlete’s life. If you consider that we train every single day to improve ourselves and become better players. You have to learn to perform under a lot of pressure – this is the key to survive in such a competitive environment. I think you can apply all this to any business or any entrepreneurial journey and experience.

Pictured above: Mathieu Flamini playing with local Inuit children in Ilulissat, Greenland.

What are three key qualities or lessons from football that everyone can learn from?

The three top qualities that I would take away from football are: dedication, hard work and learning how to work in a team. Football players start playing when they are very young, at around 17 years old – and from this young age onwards, they have a lot of responsibilities. You mature and gain experience very quickly and that’s something you carry with you forever in your football life and after. As you become an older player and gain some experience, all you want to do is share these lessons with the younger generation. I have really enjoyed giving back by trying to inspire kids and help develop new talents. The role of leadership evolves during your career, but it remains omnipresent.

Do you think your footballing fame has helped or hindered you as you stand up for the environment?

I believe we are all part of various communities. And it happens that mine is a big one: football has no borders, no religion and is a universal language. Sports in general bring people together. So, because my community includes a lot of people of different ages, different social categories and from different parts of the world, I have a platform which is very helpful to communicate the problems surrounding climate change: I can help create awareness. I also believe it is important to empower people because everyone is part of the solution and everyone can have a positive impact in their own community, big or small.

What social responsibilities do footballers have?

It’s interesting you mention social responsibilities because yes, athletes have a big role to play here. If you consider that a huge number of people have lost faith and trust in our institutions, governments, and big corporations, I believe sports and athletes can bring these people together. Because sports in general, and football in particular, are so popular and are followed by hundreds of millions of people (if not billions), athletes have a huge social responsibility. In my opinion, athletes should embrace that responsibility and stand up for real causes to inspire others.

 

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

UN human rights chief denounces grave ‘assaults’ on fundamental rights of Palestinian people

Solitary Britain sides with US aggressing Russia and chooses hard Brexit

State aid: Commission invites comments on simplified rules for State aid combined with EU support

The energy industry is changing. Are governments switched on?

Countries must up their game to reduce low birth weights, warns UN-backed report

Trump: Hostile to Europe, voids Tillerson’s “ironclad” ally pledge

The impact of COVID-19 on the life of the elderly

UN aid teams scramble to reach ‘most remote places’ cut off by Cyclone Kenneth in Mozambique

Nearly 900 children released by north-east Nigeria armed group

Trade Committee advocates lower tariffs in Western Sahara

5 post-COVID trends from Indian entrepreneurs

Rights experts call for greater protection of indigenous people during migration

Can I still send mail in the time of coronavirus?

FROM THE FIELD: Powering up health care in Sub-Saharan Africa

Capitalism’s greatest weakness? It confuses price with value

The Commission accused of tolerating corruption and fraud in taxation

4 key ways countries can finance their SDG ambitions

Digital Green Certificate is the right move but speeding up vaccination is key

UN chief praises Malaysia’s death penalty repeal as ‘major step forward’

‘Eco-shaming’ is on the rise, but does it work?

Population in crisis hit EU countries will suffer for decades

Total US cases quadruple in one week – Today’s coronavirus updates

How blockchain can manage the future electricity grid

The EU threatens to impose extra import duties on Chinese products

CLIMATE CHANGE FOCUS: The fruits of sustainability and decent work

Venezuelan crisis: MEPs reaffirm their support for Juan Guaidó

Brexit: European Commission recommends the European Council (Article 50) to endorse the agreement reached on the revised Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland and revised Political Declaration

Banks must take bold action to fight climate change. This is how they can do it

The Collapse of the Brazilian Health Care System

UN working to prevent attacks on civilians in eastern DR Congo

Adjust UN force in Abyei to current realities, peacekeeping chief urges Security Council

Sweden has a plan to end all traffic accident deaths

The zero that every investment portfolio needs

UN ‘prioritizing needs’, ramping up aid, as Hurricane Dorian continues to batter the Bahamas

Chatterbox Rome Declaration cannot save the EU; Germany has to pay more to do that

4 fixes for equipment supply chains before the next COVID-19 waves hit

IMF: The global economy keeps growing except Eurozone

Climate finance for developing countries reached USD 71 billion in 2017

The Mobile World Congress in Shanghai will take place on 27-29 June 2018

Women in leadership: closing the gender gap in medicine

Why trust and technology go hand-in-hand

Growing a future free of terrorism: UN News special report from Cameroon

The world needs carbon-neutral flying. Here’s how to bring it one step closer

Economic sentiment and business climate stagnate in miserable euro area

Water pollution is killing millions of Indians. Here’s how technology and reliable data can change that

The two big uncertainties shaping our future

‘Water-forecasting’ and fish farms fed on waste: how innovation is driving the blue economy

Blockchain is facing a backlash. Can it survive?

Creating zero-emission aviation with hydrogen and electric power

COVID-19: Commission creates first ever rescEU stockpile of medical equipment

Taxation: Commission refers Poland to Court for failing to remove certain tax exemptions on the use of energy products by highly polluting businesses

A new roadmap for corporate climate governance

It’s time to stop talking about ethics in AI and start doing it

These countries are driving global demand for coal

Protecting workers from biological agents: how to classify SARS-CoV-2

Don’t let smoking steal life’s breathtaking moments, urges UN health agency

Major humanitarian hub in north-east Nigeria burned in attack

From diamonds to recycling: how blockchain can drive responsible and ethical businesses

Migration Crisis: how to open the borders and make way for the uprooted

UN investigates systematic sexual violence across South Sudan

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s