Durham, NC – A new soccer mini-pitch honoring members of Black Players for Change (BPC) and Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC) is coming to Hillside High School in Durham. The mini-pitch is one of 18 being completed through 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.
The mini-pitch at Hillside High School is of particular significance for BPC and BWPC members Imani Dorsey (Gotham FC, BWPC), Jeremy Ebobisse (San Jose Earthquakes, BPC), Ike Opara (BPC), and Brianna Pinto (NC Courage, BWPC) – all of whom either spent time in the area for school or as a professional athlete and were heavily involved in the site selection process for this mini-pitch.
“As a lifelong resident of Durham, I am so grateful to be involved in the process of bringing another safe and exciting area to play the beautiful game,” said BWPC member and NC Courage player Brianna Pinto. “Durham has such a rich soccer culture due to its diversity, and I have been beneficiary of the pickup culture that has been established here. Building a mini-pitch in a historically black community is an exciting venture because we will be able to cultivate the next generation of BWPC and BPC leaders that have significant ties to the area. My greatest hope is that this pitch will be a place to celebrate our differences, encourage healthy competition among girls and boys, and share our collective love for the game. I sincerely appreciate the investment that the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Musco Lighting, and adidas have made in my hometown.”
“I feel humbled to be able to help bring a BPC mini-pitch to Durham, a pitch I hope can serve as both a community hub and a platform for kids to channel their energy and ambition through the beautiful game we love,” said BPC’s Jeremy Ebobisse. “For it to be located at Hillside High School reaffirms our commitment to providing kids who look like us the infrastructure and opportunity to continue their growth, love and dedication towards this game, and I’m excited to harness that personality alongside the vibrant soccer community in the area.”
“What a privilege it is to be a part of bringing a mini-pitch to a city and community that I love so dearly,” said BPC member and Durham native, Ike Opara. “My experiences in Durham molded me into the man I am today, so the honor I feel in giving back to Bull City genuinely leaves me speechless. The opportunity to provide a lasting impact for kids that resemble us at the BPC is truly an honor. Lastly, thank you to U.S. Soccer Foundation for being an amazing partner as we help shape the paths of young men and women to experience their own mental and physical journey through the game of soccer.”
“Hillside is excited to serve as the site for the BWPC/BPC mini-pitch,” said Hillside High School Principal Dr. William Logan. “We are confident that students at Hillside, as well as students across Durham county, will be able to refine their skills in soccer by accessing the mini-pitch. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to develop skills that could potentially enable them to play beyond high school.”
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.
Other mini-pitches that are part of the initiative are in Alexandria, VA; Fresno, CA; Hawthorne, CA; Houston, TX; 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,O 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.
Jennifer Arnold, U.S. Soccer Foundation