SOCCER MINI-PITCH HONORING BLACK WOMEN’S PLAYER COLLECTIVE AND BLACK PLAYERS FOR CHANGE OFFICIALLY OPEN FOR PLAY AT CULLEN MIDDLE SCHOOL
For Release: January 25, 2022
Houston, TX – A new soccer mini-pitch honoring members of Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC) and Black Players for Change (BPC) is now open at Cullen Middle School in Houston. The mini-pitch is one of 18 that was recently completed as part of a national partnership between BWPC, BPC, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Musco Lighting, and adidas in communities of significance for members of BWPC and BPC.
The mini-pitch at Cullen Middle School honors members of the BWPC, many of whom play for (or have played for) the Houston Dash and are passionate about the BWPC’s mission. Imagery of members of the BWPC and inspirational quotes surround the pitch.
“Houston is a vibrant city full of diversity and a strong black community, and BWPC is very excited about the mini-pitch here in Houston at Cullen,” said BWPC Executive Board Member Imani Dorsey. “We hope this mini-pitch gives more black girls an opportunity to engage with local BWPC members at the Dash and with the Houston soccer community at large.”
“We are excited to have this phenomenal mini-pitch soccer field that will greatly benefit our students,” Cullen Middle School Principal Jacqueline Thompson said. “It will provide students many opportunities to demonstrate their athletic abilities and talents. We appreciate the thoughtfulness of this initiative.”
The mini-pitch initiative is part of partners’ collective efforts to remove systemic barriers that keep children of color—specifically Black children—from playing the game and gaining the many benefits that come with being involved in the sport.
“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.”
“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. “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.”
This work contributes to already-existing U.S. Soccer Foundation initiatives in Houston. Houston Dynamo FC owner Ted Segal, along with Houston Dynamo minority FC owner Ben Guill and former Dynamo and Dash minority owner Jake Silverstein are working with the Foundation to create 15 mini-pitches in the greater Houston area by 2024, six of which have already been installed across the region. In addition, the U.S. Soccer Foundation has been running its proven Soccer for Success program with Houston Parks & Recreation since the program’s inception—engaging more than 6,500 children to date.
In September 2021, the Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee and the U.S. Soccer Foundation announced a $6 million campaign to support Houston 2026’s Grow the Game initiative aimed at providing underserved communities access to the world’s most popular sport. These efforts are still currently underway.
BPC and BWPC mini-pitches in other parts of the country are in Alexandria, VA; Durham, NC; Fresno, CA; Hawthorne, CA; Indianapolis, IN; Kissimmee, FL; Louisville, KY; Rex, GA; Sacramento, CA; San Diego, CA; and Woodbridge, VA.
In addition to the 12 mini-pitches funded by BPC, BWPC, Musco Lighting, adidas, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation, other partners have joined these efforts, bringing another six mini-pitches to fruition throughout the year.
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 in Harlem as part of a 50-pitch project that was completed in fall 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.
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.
ABOUT CULLEN MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HOUSTON ISD
Cullen Middle School produces College Bound Scholars through a culture of high expectations, academic achievement, and data driven instruction. In a safe and disciplined environment, Cullen will prepare all scholars to thrive academically and socially in their journey toward high school and beyond.
The Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in Texas and the seventh largest in the United States. It serves approximately 197,000 students at 276 campuses and is one of the largest employers in Houston, with about 27,000 team members.
Jennifer Arnold, U.S. Soccer Foundation
Larry Leonard, Houston ISD Media Relations