Kenyan Teen Captures  Arsenal, FIFA Attention With Life-Changing Initiative

  • A collage of 18-year-old environmental activist Lesein Mutunkei and Arsenal's Fly Emirates Stadium in London, UK.
    A collage of 18-year-old environmental activist Lesein Mutunkei and Arsenal's Fly Emirates Stadium in London, UK.
    Courtesy Trees4Goals
  • A Kenyan teenager has caught the attention of the sports fraternity over his commitment to making an impact in the fight against climate change.

    Lesein Mutunkei, 18, is an environmental activist and he uses his talents to fight deforestation and pollution, a cause he told CNN was close to his heart.

    The footballer plants 11 trees every time he scores a goal. He admitted that the feeling of doing something for the greater good of the planet is equal to winning a trophy.

    Kenyan amateur footballer Lesein Mutunkei
    Kenyan amateur footballer Lesein Mutunkei
    Courtesy Trees4Goals

    CNN reached out to FIFA over Mutunkei's campaign and the football body admitted that such projects are crucial as they hailed the 18-year-old for his work.

    "This and other similar projects led by young people and climate defenders around the world are not only commendable but also necessary," a FIFA official told the media organization.

    The heartwarming project also caught the attention of the English Premier League side, Arsenal.

    Under Mikel Arteta, Arsenal finished fifth in the EPL last season and have been touted among the favourites to qualify for the Champions League this season. 

    The club sent Mutunkei an autographed jersey after learning about the 18-year-old in an environmental docu-series.

    Mutunkei noted that he first understood the impact of deforestation, climate change and plastic pollution when he was 11 years old.

    "I decided to do something about it. I combined my love for football and nature. I committed that for every goal I score I plant a tree. That’s how the Trees for Goals initiative was born. 

    Kenyan amateur footballer Lesein Mutunkei met with President Uhuru Kenyatta on October 15, 2019.
    Kenyan amateur footballer Lesein Mutunkei met with President Uhuru Kenyatta on October 15, 2019.
    PSCU

    "Through the initiative, I have influenced change in my school, football club, and local community as well as encouraged my peers to join the tree planting and growing efforts," he stated in an interview with WWF Kenya.

    "I increased my target seven times; for every goal, I score I plant 10 trees, then to 11 times my initial target: for every goal, I score I plant 11 trees it represents team effort in football and the contribution by my football team. I have planted over 1000 trees in the last two years," he added.

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