Louisville, KY – The latest mini-pitch honoring members of Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC) and Black Players for Change (BPC) was officially unveiled at Petersburg Park yesterday. Joined by Cheyna Matthews and Addisyn Merrick of the BWPC and Racing Louisville FC, local youth were part of the grand opening celebration. This mini-pitch is one of 12 being installed in a national partnership between BPC, BWPC, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Musco Lighting, and adidas in communities of significance for members of BPC and BWPC.
Aimed at removing systemic barriers to the sport for youth of color, the initiative focuses on selection of mini-pitch locations in underserved areas of the communities that lack access to safe places to play. The mini-pitch at Petersburg Park is the first of the partnership to be officially unveiled that solely features women of the BWPC in imagery surrounding the pitch.
The mini-pitch site is also located near many community hubs of significance including Newburg Community Center, the Boys & Girls Club of Kentuckiana, and Newburg Middle School. Between those three entities, thousands of children use Petersburg Park daily for a variety of activities during school, after school, on weekends and during the school breaks.
“I’m excited to be a part of the mini-pitch opening in Louisville,” said BWPC member and Racing Louisville FC player Addisyn Merrick. “I think it’ll be a great space for youth to create their own experiences in a safe space.”
At the grand opening event, local youth participated in conversations with Cheyna Matthews and Addisyn Merrick about their experiences as Black athletes and other topics related to race and social justice. Following these discussions, Cheyna and Addisyn led soccer activities on the new pitch for youth from the Louisville area.
“As the proud home of this year’s National Women’s Soccer League Championship, we are thrilled for the addition of this newly installed mini-pitch to our community and are honored to help recognize the Black Women’s Player Collective and Black Players for Change,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “This mini-pitch will shine an even brighter light on diversifying and increasing accessibility to Louisville’s growing soccer community. Thank you to the U.S. Soccer Foundation, adidas, and Musco Lighting for recognizing Louisville’s love for the game.”
In addition to the mini-pitch at Petersburg Park, mini-pitches honoring BPC and BWPC have been completed in Hawthorne, CA, San Diego, CA, Orlando, FL, and Indianapolis, IN as part of the national partnership with adidas, Musco Lighting, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation. These pitches all aim to provide greater access for Black children to play the game.
“This pitch will be a great addition to Louisville. As their thriving soccer community continues to grow, it’s crucial that we dedicate spaces to female athletes,” said BPC Executive Board Member Justin Morrow. “We’re so excited to be partners with Black Women’s Player Collective, and this pitch is the first of many that will serve as a haven for a more inclusive version of our sport moving forward.”
“Research shows that Black communities are significantly more likely to lack recreational facilities than those found in white neighborhoods,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “In addition, Black girls face more barriers to playing soccer than their white peers. Together with BWPC, we are working to change this reality by providing more safe places to play in these neighborhoods and introducing more girls to the game. We are so proud to work with BWPC to make sure that young girls know that there are professional athletes that look like them achieving their dreams in sport – and in other careers off the field.”
“The Black Women’s Player Collective and mini-pitch initiative is about leveling the playing field and expanding opportunities,” said Jeff Rogers, president of Musco. “We continue to be impressed and inspired by the dedication of athletes like Addisyn and Cheyna to their home communities, and the work they do to make positive change happen. We’re proud to join BWPC and our other partners to create this new space that kids and families can enjoy for years to come.”
In addition to these 12 mini-pitches, other partners have joined BPC and BWPC in their efforts to create safer places to play.
In October 2020, adidas, BPC, Musco, the New York Red Bulls, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation celebrated the opening of a double 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 will be completed this fall.
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.
ABOUT CITY OF LOUISVILLE
For more information, visit louisvilleky.gov.
adidas is a global leader in the sporting goods industry, offering a broad portfolio of footwear, apparel and hardware for sport and lifestyle around the core brands adidas and Reebok. Headquartered in Herzogenaurach/Germany, the company employs 57,000 people across the globe and generated sales of around €22 billion in 2018.
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
Morgan Woodrum, Louisville Parks and Recreation