By Michael McMullan
CUSHENDALL and Antrim hurler Neil McManus heads to Kenya on Friday to join up with a host of Gaelic games stars from all corners of Ireland to travel to East Africa for a week-long tour.
The ‘Plant the Planet games’, in conjunction with Fibrus, are the creation of Warriors for Humanity founder and former Galway dual player Alan Kerins and will feature 50 male and female inter-county from all four Gaelic games’ codes.
The aim is to highlight the impact of climate change and raise sufficient funds to plant one million trees in Africa. The players will take to the field for a challenge match at Nairobi Rugby Club, the first time an inter-county game will be played in Kenya.
“Climate change is radically affecting Kenya and this entire region. They are experiencing severe drought currently,” McManus said of his motivation to get involved.
“So the region most affected is actually a very small contributor to the global carbon footprint. This means we have a duty to support the people worst affected.”
The trees will provide food for communities and provide an income sour while improving the soil quality.
“I am passionate about our environment. I come from one of the most beautiful and unspoiled regions of Ireland. I want that to be protected and preserved for future generations to enjoy,” McManus added.
“I’m very lucky to be in a position to partner with Fibrus to raise the funds needed to make this initiative a success and I’m very proud to be playing a small part”
Joining Neil will be an array of talent from Gaelic games including Wexford’s Matthew O’Hanlon, Kerry’s Stefan Okunbor, Kilkenny’s Grace Walsh and Niamh O’Sullivan of Meath.
Speaking at the launch, Fibrus Chief Operating Officer Shane Haslem said the company takes its ESG commitments seriously.
“As a responsible business, we recognise that we have an important part to play in protecting, restoring and enhancing nature, such as through our commitment to having an electric fleet and being carbon neutral by 2025,” he said.
“We are building infrastructure in the communities we serve and we’ve put several initiatives in place to improve sustainability in the areas in which we operate.
“By working together, we can help make green choices and be a good neighbour to leave a positive environmental legacy for future generations. That’s why it’s so important to us to be able to give back to the communities in which we operate. Connecting communities really is at the heart of our culture.”
He added: “Neil McManus is known not only for the impact he has on the field but he also embodies this ethos. That’s why we’re delighted to support him in this very worthwhile initiative, which will change so much for the people of Kenya.”
In addition to the games, the players will also take part in a series of cultural events to highlight the work being done in the country by charities such as Self Help Africa.
Founder of Warriors for Humanity and Plant the Planet Games, Alan Kerins praised the battle against climate change.
“It is incredible to have fifty warriors signed up, each one committing to raise funds in support of what is one of the biggest challenges of our lifetime, that of climate change,” he said.
“This campaign, from which some of the world’s most vulnerable communities will benefit, will leave a lasting legacy in more ways than one, improving quality of living both in the present day and for future generations.
“This will also be the first time inter-county players will take to the field against one another on Kenyan soil, and we are hopeful that, along with the funds raised, this significant milestone will leave a lasting and positive impression on Kenya’s communities.
“As it has in many countries around the world, Gaelic games have an ability to bring communities together for a greater good and we are sure this campaign will be no different.”