Bart on “De top van Onderop”,


Bart Vriends is the current captain of Sparta Rotterdam in the Eredivisie and has been a WPG ambassador since 2022. Being one of the most outspoken footballers about the planetary crises in the Netherlands, (alongside fellow WPG Ambassador Siem de Jong), Bart has continued his advocacy off the pitch by becoming an ambassador for the new Acceleration Impulse for the Sustainability of Amateur Sports in the Netherlands.

On December 6th, Bart took center stage in the Dutch TV program, “De Top van Onderop”, (The Top from the Bottom). Organized by the Nationaal Klimaat Platform, this was a televised summit that celebrated all the Green Shift initiatives that are currently underway and making an impact in the Netherlands. As a We Play Green Player,  Bart shared his journey into planetary activism, what he’s accomplished so far, and set out his goals as a football ambassador invested in the sport’s future and the planet’s well-being.


Bart shared his journey to becoming an advocate for the Green Shift by recounting that it was born out of frustration rather than idealism. For him, following the news that was full of experts warning against catastrophe and not being taken seriously was “triggering”, and motivated him to do something about it. When the political parties and the media in the Netherlands “shrugged their shoulders” when asked about these topics, Bart decided that he use his platform to bring more attention to the urgency of the planetary crises whose “solution is already known”.

He explains, “Two things came together. The feeling that I could use my profession as a footballer for more than just the sport itself. And the need to put the fight against climate change at number 1 for more people.”

This mindset made it easy for Bart to join WPG. He shares, “I joined We Play Green by Norwegian footballer Morten Thorsby. He started this initiative from the same belief that we should use the power of football for good. We regularly talk to the affiliated football players about our involvement. That inspires you not to sit back, but to actually take action”.

Looking ahead:

Bart has been actively engaging with his club to prioritize the Green Shift as he believes that this will not only benefit the planet but also a thriving “green” economy in Rotterdam from which valuable partners can emerge. With his new ambassadorship role within amateur sports, Bart will join forces with energy cooperatives, the government, and the financial world to ensure no association will have an energy bill in the near future.

“Sports clubs that produce their own energy with sun and wind, dirt cheap and super clean. You can use it for the next 1000 years without being dependent on authoritarian regimes or a gas bubble in Groningen. You can even use it to provide warmth to the environment. Shouldn’t this picture appeal to everyone? In any case, it is a society as I like to envision it. If we put our shoulders to the wheel, we will make a big difference, and – as far as I am concerned – we can achieve something that we can be very proud of.”


Latest stories