MORE THAN $1 MILLION PLEDGED TO CREATE 12 MINI-PITCHES HONORING BLACK PLAYERS FOR CHANGE — KICKSTARTING LONG-TERM PARTNERSHIP WITH U.S. SOCCER FOUNDATION

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Black Players for Change, Musco Lighting, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation announced that community mini-pitches will be installed in honor of the founding 12 Executive Board Members of Black Players for Change (BPC) over the course of the next year. These mini-pitches are part of a new, long-term partnership between the organizations aimed at removing systemic barriers that keep children of color from playing the game.

“We are committed to investment at all levels of our game, especially at the grassroots level. These mini-pitches address a real barrier—lack of access to a safe place to play—that leaves too many Black youth from having a path to build equity in our game,” said Quincy Amarikwa, Co-Founder and Director of Relationships & Strategic Partnerships for BPC. “Partnering with U.S. Soccer Foundation and Musco is the first step in creating real, tangible assets, invested in local communities to serve as a launching pad for future investment, creating dividends of impact over the long term,” concluded Amarikwa.

“We’re thrilled to come together with the U.S. Soccer Foundation and Musco Lighting to create this opportunity. This is only the beginning of our efforts to grow the game in Black communities and we look forward to scaling nationwide in order to ensure equitable access to soccer for the next generation,” said Justin Morrow, Co-Founder and Executive Director of BPC.

“It’s important for Black children to see people who look like them and who have made it to the highest levels of their careers,” said U.S. Soccer Foundation President & CEO Ed Foster-Simeon. “Children playing on these pitches will be reminded every day that they too can succeed in their chosen path—whether that is as a professional soccer player, a doctor or any other chosen career. The U.S. Soccer Foundation is honored to work alongside Black Players for Change to provide more opportunities for youth to play our game.”

To complete these first 12 mini-pitches, the organizations have pledged to raise and invest more than $1.8 million in the project. The first mini-pitch location will be announced in the coming weeks.

According to Active Living Research, one study found that 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 Aspen Institute.

The Mini-Pitch System™ modular sports solution helps combat these challenges by providing community members with safer places for free play. The spaces can also be used by local organizations to run high-quality, free or low-cost youth soccer programs, including the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program. In line with the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s mission, partners will prioritize selection of mini-pitch locations in underserved areas of the communities that lack access to safe places to play.

Each athlete will visit his hometown community for the grand opening of the mini-pitch and will help elevate Black voices in the community. Images of prominent Black athletes will surround the mini-pitch.

The U.S. Soccer Foundation has a long history of engaging youth of color to deliver positive outcomes through sports. Forty-eight percent of participants in its Soccer for Success program are Hispanic and 34 percent are African-American.

Surveys show that 88% of participants in the Soccer for Success program work better on a team, 86% avoid anti-social behavior, and 83% have improved health outcomes. U.S. Soccer Foundation surveys also show that communities benefit from the creation of a mini-pitch: 98% say that people in their community are more active and 98% say that the community feels safer.

The 12 mini-pitches are made possible thanks to a significant investment by Musco Lighting. Musco has been involved in providing structural support for lighting systems for more than 40 years and has partnered in projects with the U.S. Soccer Foundation for more than 20 years. They have worked with the Foundation to develop the structure for the Mini-Pitch System, installing and refining the system over the past two years. It includes state-of-the-art LED lighting technology, fencing, goals, lockable storage, and ADA-compliant access. On average, the lighted mini-pitches allow for nearly three additional hours of play in a day.

“We believe very strongly in the mission of empowering youth in underserved communities with opportunities to come together, grow, develop essential life skills, and have fun in a safer, well-lit, high-quality environment,” said Jeff Rogers, Vice President of Development Sales at Musco. “That’s exactly what Black Players for Change and the U.S. Soccer Foundation have dedicated themselves to with this initiative, and we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it.”

To learn more about mini-pitches visit www.ussoccerfoundation.org.

ABOUT BLACK PLAYERS FOR CHANGE

Black Players for Change (BPC) is an organization consisting of over 100+ 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 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 the most innovative systems using metal halide and LED technologies, resulting in an unparalleled ability to control glare and protect neighborhoods from light spill in a way that’s cost effective and energy efficient. Musco has been engineering systems around the LED for nearly 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 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.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Sirena Amarikwa, Black Players for Change
Sirena@BlackPlayersForChange.org

Jennifer Arnold, U.S. Soccer Foundation
jarnold@ussoccerfoundation.org; 202-872-6662

Eduardo Zamarripa, Musco Lighting
eduardo.tamezzamarripa@musco.com; 641-670-1608

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OUR PARTNERS

  • adidas

    adidas

    adidas, the Foundation’s Safe Places to Play – Mini-Pitch Partner, supports providing children in underserved communities with safe play spaces nationwide. adidas strives to be the globally leading and most popular sporting goods brand. Dedicated to innovation,  adidas embraces creativity and seeks to be socially responsible in all facets of its brand. For more information, please visit adidas.com.

  • APT

    APT

    APT (Advanced Polymer Technology), the Foundation’s Partner for Acrylic Coating Products, is a global leader in high performance sports surfaces. APT provides people around the world with safe, reliable, performance enhancing surfaces. APT’s Laykold Masters acrylic surfacing system will be the official surface of an estimated 500 mini-pitches. For more information on APT, please visit www.sportsbyapt.com.

  • AstroTurf

    AstroTurf

    For athletes and soccer enthusiasts, AstroTurf® is redefining how synthetic soccer fields are built and perform. The brand offers advanced, state-of-the-art synthetic turf systems with proprietary engineered technologies. A growing number of clubs, high schools, colleges, professional sports teams and municipalities continue to select AstroTurf’s LigaTurf-branded products for their premium quality, technical superiority, and safety. To learn more, visit the company’s recently redesigned website, www.astroturf.com/soccer. – See more at: https://ussoccerfoundation.org/article/astroturf-partners-with-the-u.s.-soccer-foundation-as-a-national-partner-for-field-building-program#sthash.FL8E8bAM.dpuf

  • CHA

    CHA

    CHA Sports, the Foundation’s Supplier for Soccer Facility Design and Planning Services, provides community partners with expertise in soccer facility design. CHA Sport’s full service approach allows the company to build world-class projects without breaking budgets. For more information, please visit chacompanies.com

  • The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation

    The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation

    DICK’S Sporting Goods and The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation believe that participation in sports makes people better. Since 2014, DICK’S and The DICK’S Foundation have pledged more than $100 million to support youth sports teams and leagues in need.  Through our Sports Matter initiative we strive to increase awareness for underfunded youth athletics nationwide and provide much-needed support through equipment, uniform and monetary donations. For more information on Sports Matter, visit SportsMatter.org.

  • Hunter

    Hunter

    Hunter Industries, the Foundation’s National Partner for Irrigation Equipment, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of irrigation equipment for turf, landscape and soccer fields.  Hunter Industries’ focus is on landscape irrigation with a significant part of its business centering on the proper care and maintenance of sports turf. For more information, please visit hunterindustries.com. Please contact Lynda Wightman, 406-273-3073, lynda.wightman@hunterindustries.com with any questions regarding the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s grants program.

  • Johnson & Johnson

    Johnson & Johnson

    Johnson & Johnson, the Foundation’s grant partner, is dedicated to supporting the next generation of female leaders by providing greater access to girls’ youth soccer programming in underserved communities nationwide. As the world’s largest and most broadly based healthcare company, Johnson & Johnson strives to create healthier communities, and put a healthy mind, body and environment within reach of everyone, everywhere. For more information, please visit www.jnj.com.

  • Kwik Goal

    Kwik Goal

    Kwik Goal, the Foundation’s Official Supplier for goals, seating, boundary equipment, training equipment and coaching accessories, will be supporting a variety of Foundation programs and initiatives including: Soccer for Success, National Training and the Safe Places to Play program. Over thirty years ago, Kwik Goal was founded on the revolutionary concept of providing transportable goals for coaches at all age levels. Since that time, Kwik Goal has continued to focus on helping coaches and soccer programs create safe and dynamic learning environments by supplying high quality, safety tested soccer goals, field equipment and training equipment to the domestic and international market. For more information, please visit Kwikgoal.com.

  • MLS WORKS

    MLS WORKS

    MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative, is dedicated to addressing important social issues and serves as a platform for both League and club philanthropic programs. MLS WORKS seeks to establish Major League Soccer as a leader for improving the lives of people through sport. MLS WORKS is committed to improving the communities where we live and play our games by executing national programs and legacy projects, charitable giving campaigns, and undertaking various initiatives in underserved communities.

  • Musco

    Musco

    As a proud corporate partner of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Musco is dedicated to helping the major charitable arm of American soccer create new opportunities through high-quality sports lighting. Their Total Light Control—TLC for LED™ technology is engineered as a system with lighting, structural, and electrical components designed to work together for streamlined installation and long-term reliability. TLC for LED delivers superior field lighting while eliminating glare and spill from impacting surrounding neighborhoods. And Musco’s long-term warranty covering parts and labor means U.S. Soccer Foundation partners don’t have to handle any maintenance on their system, or pay for it, for 25 years. Visit https://ussoccerfoundation.org/grants/ to learn more about the grant program and application process.

  • SCORE Sports

    SCORE Sports

    SCORE Sports, the preferred provider of shin guards to the Foundation’s Soccer for Success program, is a family-owned and operated business specializing in sports equipment, uniforms and apparel. SCORE is an industry leader and has been involved in the sports community for over 40 years. SCORE outfits athletes with high-quality uniforms that SCORE develops, designs and manufactures in the U.S. SCORE takes pride in working with various non-profit groups and causes to give back to athletes who may need some extra support to play the game they love. SCORE is environmentally cautious with the materials it uses for its products and does its part in minimizing our environmental footprint. SCORE proudly offers a wide variety of products to provide customers with a one-stop shop for all your soccer needs. For more information, please visit scoresports.com.

  • Soccer.com

    Soccer.com

    Soccer.com, the Foundation’s National Partner for Soccer Equipment and Uniforms, was founded in 1984 to provide high quality soccer gear at reasonable prices through its nationally circulated catalog. Soccer.com embodies a passion for the game that extends to the people who play, coach and support soccer. For more information, please visit soccer.com.

  • Target

    Target

    Target announced a national partnership with Safe Places to Play in 2017, along with a $6 million commitment to build 100 new soccer play spaces with the U.S. Soccer Foundation by 2020. This is the latest initiative in the Minneapolis-based retailer’s multi-dimensional approach to the sport of soccer, bringing the game to more kids and families across the country, and unlocking access and increasing involvement at all levels.

  • TGI Worldwide

    TGI Worldwide

    TGI Worldwide, the Foundation’s National Partner for Visual Branding (Signage, Event Décor, Pageantry, Sponsorship Activation), Perimeter Field Board Systems, Creative Services and Event Operations is proud to support a variety of initiatives and programs throughout the United States. Headquartered in the U.S., TGI is an internationally recognized sports marketing company delivering high profile Visual Branding, Live Event Management, LED, and cutting edge Digital Sports Applications to enrich the experience at major events and deliver commercial impact for sponsors and partners. The company has a 20-year history in providing its various solutions for many top-tier domestic and international events, organizations, teams and companies, with proven success and turn-key solutions across 1000+ events, 160+ cities and 50+ countries globally.

    For more information on our services, please visit https://www.worldwidetgi.com or contact Mike Squire at msquire@worldwidetgi.com / Phone: 312-371-5852.

  • World Soccer Shop

    World Soccer Shop

    Launched in 2001, World Soccer Shop is an online soccer retailer based in Birmingham, Alabama. It carries one of the world’s widest selections of officially-licensed products from the sport’s top brands and teams. World Soccer Shop is passionate about soccer and endeavors to spread the beautiful game around the world, especially to those in areas of need. For more information, please visit www.worldsoccershop.com.

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