18 SOCCER MINI-PITCHES AIMED AT EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILDREN OF COLOR TO PLAY THE GAME NOW IN 14 COMMUNITIES NATIONWIDE
For Release: January 25, 2022
BPC, BWPC, adidas, Musco Lighting, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation complete first year of national mini-pitch initiative
Washington, D.C. – Black Players for Change (BPC), Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC), adidas, Musco Lighting, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation today announced the completion of the first year of a national initiative that has brought 18 mini-pitches to communities nationwide, providing more than 10,000 children access to the game.
Launched at the end of 2020, the initiative installed mini-pitches in underserved communities nationwide right in the neighborhoods where children live and go to school. Communities were chosen based on areas of significance to the BPC and BWPC and as part of partners’ collective efforts to remove systemic barriers that keep children of color—specifically Black children—from playing the game.
Photos and quotes from Black athletes surround the mini-pitches. In addition, members from BPC and BWPC have connected with students virtually and through in-person events to serve as role models and mentors.
“I am grateful that the BWPC is a part of this mini-pitch initiative with our incredible partners,” said BWPC Executive Board Member Imani Dorsey. “Mini-pitches help us connect with black girls across the country and bring the sport we love directly to them. The mini-pitches are a place of joy, inspiration, and exploration that we are proud to bring to black communities across the country. We hope their inclusion introduces many to the sport of soccer, but also reminds them what they can accomplish in their own lives.”
“It’s hard to believe all that we’ve accomplished in one year,” said BPC Co-Founder and Executive Director Justin Morrow. “Thanks to U.S. Soccer Foundation, Musco Lighting, and adidas who supported us from day one. We started with a good project that transformed into a great one when Black Women’s Player Collective joined. These mini-pitches represent our dedication not only to these communities but also to our mission to make this sport more inclusive, and we’re not done yet.”
According to Active Living Research, one study found that more than 70 percent of African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods did not have any recreational facilities. In comparison, only 38 percent of white neighborhoods lacked recreational facilities. Furthermore, only about one third of Black and Hispanic children ages 6 to 12 play sports on a regular basis according to the most recent State of Play from Aspen Institute’s Project Play. This initiative sought to change that by creating mini-pitches in communities that didn’t have easy access to soccer and connecting youth with members of BPC and BWPC both virtually and in person.
“What this group of partners has been able to accomplish in just one year is incredible,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “The fact that other local organizations joined these efforts so that we could create more than the original 12 mini-pitches we planned is a testament to the importance of this work and the lasting positive impact it’s having on children and communities. Not only do children now have more safe places to play right in their neighborhoods, but they have been connected with athletes and mentors who look like them, which is so important to helping them see themselves in all aspects of our sport and society.”
“Every time a mini-pitch is installed through this initiative, it represents countless new opportunities for youth in underserved communities to discover the sport of soccer, develop essential life skills, and have fun,” said Jeff Rogers, President of Musco. “We couldn’t be more proud of everything that’s been achieved in the first year, and we look forward to strengthening our commitment to Black Players for Change, the Black Women’s Player Collective, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation as we move ahead and continue with this important work.”
“We’re proud to play a role in the completion of 18 mini-pitches across the U.S., helping to increase the opportunity for young athletes from all backgrounds to have access to sport. Everyone should have a safe place for sport in their communities, and we look forward to the positive impact the mini-pitches have on young athletes and local communities for years to come,” said Skate Noftsinger, Director of Soccer Sports Marketing at adidas.
Twelve mini-pitches were funded entirely by BPC, BWPC, adidas, Musco Lighting, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation. In addition, the initiative sparked other partners to support these efforts and help provide even more safe places to play.
In October 2020, adidas, BPC, Musco, the New York Red Bulls, Wells Fargo, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation celebrated the opening of a double mini-pitch honoring the BPC at West Side High School in Newark, NJ. It was the first mini-pitch project in which the U.S. Soccer Foundation – along with the New York Red Bulls and Musco – collaborated with BPC.
In June 2021, New York City Soccer Initiative partners joined BPC and BWPC to unveil a mini-pitch at Col. Charles Young Playground in Harlem as part of a 50-pitch project completed in fall 2021. The mini-pitch was completed and open for use on Juneteenth 2021.
In December 2021, local Sacramento partners Mutual Assistance Network and Sacramento Republic FC provided additional funding to create the first-ever four-court mini-pitch complex at Charles Robertson Park, which is the centerpiece of a larger park renovation to create additional safe places for play in the North Sacramento neighborhood.
A full list of mini-pitch sites created through this partnership is below:
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego – Clairemont Branch – San Diego, CA
- Charles Robertson Park – Sacramento, CA*
- Col. Charles Young Playground – New York, NY
- Computech Middle School – Fresno, CA
- Cullen Middle School – Houston, TX
- George M. Hampton Middle School – Woodbridge, VA
- Hillside High School – Durham, NC
- Holmes Middle School – Alexandria, VA
- Horizon Middle School – Kissimmee, FL
- Oscar Charleston Park – Indianapolis, IN
- Petersburg Park – Louisville, KY
- R.H. Dana Middle School – Hawthorne, CA
- Smith Elementary School – Rex, GA
- West Side High School – Newark, NJ*
*Indicates multiple mini-pitches at this site.
Learn more about the BPC/BWPC Mini-Pitch Initiative here.
ABOUT BLACK PLAYERS FOR CHANGE
Black Players for Change (BPC) is an independent organization consisting of over 170+ players, coaches and staff of MLS, working to bridge the racial equality gap that exists in society. BPC is committed to tackling the racial injustices that have limited Black people from having an equitable stake in the game of soccer and society. Among the many goals the organization strives to advance the attention on human right inequalities from protest to programs, partnerships and policies that address systemic racism. For more information visit www.BlackPlayersForChange.org or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
ABOUT BLACK WOMEN’S PLAYER COLLECTIVE
The Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC) is a nonprofit organization that elevates the image, value, and representation of Black women as athletes and leaders in business, industry, and public and private institutions. The BWPC currently consists of the 43 Black women competing in the NWSL as of 2020 and aims to provide a collective voice to the Black perspective and experience of a professional female athlete amidst the incessant and pervasive racial inequality and social injustice plaguing our country. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
ABOUT U.S. SOCCER FOUNDATION
The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s programs are the national model for sports-based youth development in underserved communities. Since its founding in 1994, the Foundation has established programs proven to help children embrace an active and healthy lifestyle while nurturing their personal growth beyond sports. Its cost-effective, high-impact initiatives offer safe environments where kids and communities thrive. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Soccer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information visit www.ussoccerfoundation.org or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
adidas is the global leader in football. It is the official supplier of the most important football tournaments in the world, such as the FIFA World Cup™, the UEFA European Championship & the UEFA Champions League. adidas also sponsors some of the world’s top clubs including Real Madrid, Manchester United, Arsenal, FC Bayern Munich & Juventus. adidas is also partner to some of the best athletes in the game including Leo Messi, Paul Pogba, Mohamed Salah, Paulo Dybala, Thiago Alcantara, Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino, Joao Felix, Serge Gnabry, Isco, Dele Alli, Karim Benzema, Vivianne Miedema, Lindsey Horan & Wendie Renard.
ABOUT MUSCO LIGHTING
Since 1976, Musco Lighting has led the world in the design and manufacture of sports and large area lighting solutions. The company has pioneered lighting systems that enhance the venue and its purpose, are sensitive to the environment, and are cost-effective to own and operate. Musco has been engineering systems around the LED for more than a decade, and has designed permanent and temporary solutions for everything from Little League® fields to Olympic Games. The company has earned awards including an Emmy for the quality of its lighting in television broadcasts and a Technical Academy Award for movie lighting. Musco’s global team of experts partner with customers to plan, complete, and maintain a trouble-free solution for their facilities.
Jennifer Arnold, U.S. Soccer Foundation