In July 2021, 29-year-old Clara Lucia was no longer in doubt that her great passion for combining sports and sustainability should go from being a good idea on paper to becoming a reality. And so, she founded the association, Permasport.

Clara Lucia primarily describes herself as a "sports woman". Much of Clara Lucia's childhood was spent on the football fields in her hometown of Silkeborg, and in the early years, she played on the boys' team because the club did not yet offer football for girls. From the age of 15 to 19, she took the train from Silkeborg to Horsens every day to play football at a higher level that matched her talent and ambitions. For a period, homework became a task to do during her commute.

Photo: Mikkel Vognæs

In 2007, Clara Lucia's father founded the sports association AC Silkeborg, which is now known as SIF Q, because "he thought it was too bad that there was no elite football for girls in Silkeborg," Clara Lucia explains. With the new - and now local - football club, Clara Lucia and the other football girls in the city no longer had to commute to Horsens, Aarhus, and Vejle to play football, and today the club is a magnet for many female football players and has been highly successful. Action and a passion for sports have thus been a constant component in the childhood home in Silkeborg.

"I'm a lot like my dad. Now I have - just like he did - founded a sports association because I believe there is something worth fighting for here. In a way, I'm following in his footsteps," she says.

Photo: private 1994. Clara and her father when she was two years old.

Photo: private. Clara Lucia 9 years old and at football school.
Photo: Diego azubel


Strong Ambitions for Sustainable Sports Communities

Permasport's young age and short lifespan do not reflect the towering ambitions that Clara Lucia has demonstrated in the association. With a heartfelt voice and gestures that simultaneously attempt to visualize the words she speaks and she explains what she wants to fight for and why she founded the association:

"The purpose of Permasport is to use sports as a tool to work with the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Through the Danish sports community, we aim to contribute even more to promoting local initiatives for a sustainable lifestyle and increasing Danish athletes' awareness of the global goals on a national level."

Permasport consists of a total of eight volunteers, and it is clear to anyone that Permasport embodies what Clara Lucia is passionate about: focusing on sustainability through sports communities. But to make this - perhaps abstract and lofty - goal in Permasport more concrete, Clara Lucia talks about a folk high school stay on Møn that was fundamental and defining for the association's approach.

Photo: Mikkel Vognæs

An Association Inspired by Permaculture

As the name itself suggests, Permasport is inspired by permaculture. But it was neither planned nor predetermined that permaculture should be the inspiration for Permasport. With Clara Lucia's certification as a Global Goals Ambassador from the Global Goals Academy and a master's degree in Intercultural Studies from Aarhus University, she has an academic - and primarily theoretical rather than practical - approach to working with sustainability in combination with sports.

It was only when she was accidentally introduced to permaculture at a folk high school on Møn in the spring of 2021 that she saw great potential in transferring the permaculture design approach to the world of sports. Permaculture came to Denmark in 1980 as a sustainable response to conventional agriculture, but the permaculture design approach can be used in all sorts of different contexts, not just in agriculture, Clara Lucia explains, and goes on to say:

"In Permasport, we use the permaculture approach to explore how we can better ensure cultural diversity in sports communities and increase diversity in the world of sports in a sustainable way, while also promoting sustainable development through sports."

Clara Lucia acknowledges and adds in the same breath that for many, permaculture as an approach can be abstract to understand. Fundamentally, permaculture should simply be seen as a very ambitious approach to promoting sustainability, which is what characterizes Permasport.

In the sports associations, the magical communities already exist, which is the ultimate starting point for promoting sustainability.
Clara Lucia

Photo: Mikkel Vognæs

Sports Communities Have Great Potential

The association appeals to all types of sports communities and sports enthusiasts, but according to Clara Lucia, Danish sports associations have a particularly great potential to drive sustainable development forward:

"Why don't sports associations have a greener profile than they do? We are environmentally conscious citizens in all sorts of contexts in our lives, but as soon as the context has a sports character, it's as if we partially forget about the green transition. In sports associations, the magical communities already exist, which is the ultimate starting point for promoting sustainability."

According to Clara Lucia, the established sports communities in sports associations are a strong starting point for creating a green transition. However, with both Clara Lucia's childhood and youth solidly rooted in association life as a football player at an elite level, she is aware that the voluntary forces in the associations are not unlimited. Working with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and sustainability can therefore be an overwhelming task for the volunteers in the associations. And that is partly why Permasport was founded:

"In Permasport, we are committed to bridging the gap between sports and sustainability, so it is us who should be the sports associations' sparring partner, ensure knowledge sharing about sustainability in the association, and help them get a greener profile if they want to."

In addition to being an association and a community where sports associations, individuals, and other interested parties can join and get help focusing on sustainability in their sports communities, Permasport is also involved in individual sports projects.

Photo: Diego azubel
Photo: Soledad Garay Molina. Club Atlético Talleres in Córdoba, Argentina, spring 2016
Permasport to host Global Goals World Cup 2022

As their first project, Permasport is hosting the international women's football tournament and sustainability festival Global Goals World Cup, which is set to take place in August 2022 in Aarhus.

For Clara Lucia, the hosting is a unique opportunity for Permasport to clarify and concretize what it means to have a permacultural approach to sport and to show how sustainable initiatives can be communicated through a sporting event:

"As hosts, we need to ensure that there are the best conditions for the greatest possible cultural diversity and coexistence for everyone who becomes part of this sports community and participates in the tournament."

A prerequisite for registering for the tournament is that each football team selects and works with one of the UN's 17 Global Goals and creates initiatives in its own community that contribute to sustainable development.

Clara Lucia is proud that Permasport is helping to focus on women in football as the first project in the association. With a focus on creating diverse sports communities, Clara Lucia would very much like the next project in Permasport to be about something as far removed from football as possible. "Nordic walking for the elderly," she exemplifies with a wry smile, but emphasizes that it is absolutely not unthinkable.

Photo: Mikkel Vognæs

A woman on a mission

Permasport as a whole is an expression of Clara Lucia's great passion for different cultures, sports, and sustainability, which have always interested her. In her gap year in 2012-2013, Clara Lucia moved to Colombia for a year, where she hadn't visited very often since she was adopted by her Danish parents at the age of one. Her love for Colombian culture quickly took hold, so in 2016, she returned to Latin America to study for a semester in Argentina. Here, she became part of an Argentine sports community that really made her aware of the unique effect a sports community can have:

"I started playing football at the local club, and even though I speak Spanish fluently, their local accent was a linguistic challenge for me. But I quickly realized that football and the sports community were actually a universal language that equalized all the cultural differences that naturally existed between me and the rest of the team. It was incredibly strong and inclusive, and that's what gives any sports community the potential and magic to collaborate on other purposes too."

Clara Lucia is convinced that we can learn a lot from having greater diversity in the sports world - particularly in promoting the sustainable agenda, where she sees diversity as a positive factor for driving sustainable development even further. With the many positive reactions and expressions of interest she has received from Permasport's interested partners, she is excited to use sports to focus on sustainability in Danish sports communities and through other projects in Permasport.

Photo: Diego azubel