You may have noticed that you didn’t hear from us last week. We paused our communications to do our part to create space and elevate the voices of people who need to be heard.
But we’ve been listening. We know that our communities are suffering. Suffering from systemic racism and racial inequities. Suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic that is disproportionately affecting underserved communities due to decades of health disparities. Suffering from the economic crisis and from other systemic inequities, such as lack of recreational opportunities and safe places to play.
This past weekend, I sat down with Soccer America’s Mike Woitalla to talk about these inequities and what role organizations – including our team at the U.S. Soccer Foundation – can play to affect positive change.
As I mentioned to Mike, it was encouraging to see the outpouring of statements denouncing racism from individuals and organizations. We stood with many organizations in strongly condemning racism and standing in solidary with the Black community and the continued fight for equality.
While statements of support confirm that people’s eyes are open, the next step is even harder – doing the work in our communities to fix these injustices.
At the U.S. Soccer Foundation, we’ve been working to address systemic inequities through sport for years. Underserved communities are four and a half times more likely to lack recreational facilities. And 81 percent of kids living in households in poverty are not playing organized sports. In addition, one in three children lack a mentor in their lives—a person who can help youth grow and develop into thriving, productive, and engaged adults.
To address these challenges, we’ve focused on providing increased access and opportunities to recreational programs and creating safe places for kids to play in underserved communities—those who are the most impacted by the systemic issues that have been thrown into the spotlight in recent weeks.
This is just one part of the solution. Individuals need to take actions as well.
To start conversations about these important topics with kids, our Foundation team has been sharing a few helpful resources for coach-mentors, parents, and others about how to talk about race and racial bias with their young people through Soccer for Success at Home.
- 10 Tips to Teaching and Talking to Kids About Race (EmbraceRace and MomsRising)
- Talking to Children About Racial Bias (HealthyChildren). This is available in English and Spanish.
- Talking About Race (National Museum of African American History and Culture)
This is just a start. We know that there is a lot more work to be done but we encourage you to have these important conversations with young people.
And at the U.S. Soccer Foundation, we will continue to do our part to help build a better future for children.