Indianapolis, IN – The latest mini-pitch honoring members of Black Players for Change (BPC) and Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC) was officially unveiled at Oscar Charleston Park today. Joined by Mayor Hogsett and Indy Parks and Recreation, students from KIPP Indy College Prep Middle 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 Oscar Charleston Park honors BPC member and former MLS player Ray Gaddis, who grew up in Indianapolis and attended North Central High School.
“It is truly a blessing to have the opportunity to bring a mini-pitch (soccer pitch) to the greater Indianapolis area. I believe that the mini-pitch will serve the community in several ways by granting local residents exposure to new opportunities through the beautiful game of soccer!” said Ray Gaddis, BPC member and former MLS player. “When God blesses you, you have to be a blessing unto others. Just as my family and the city of Indianapolis have contributed toward my success, it is my turn and duty to be a catalyst and empower my community through the game of soccer.”
The mini-pitch also features colorful murals to celebrate the contributions of African-American trailblazers: late baseball Hall-of-Famer Oscar Charleston; former MLS player Ray Gaddis; former USWNT star, World Cup champion, and Olympic gold medalist Briana Scurry; and the first female self-made millionaire Madam C.J. Walker. Using panels around the mini-pitch, artist Israel Solomon created murals of legends who have impacted the city and the soccer world. Other mural artists were Matthew Cooper, Ashley Nora, and Rebecca Robinson.
At the grand opening event, local students joined Mayor Hogsett and Ray Gaddis for an official ribbon cutting, followed by a “first kick” and scrimmages on the new pitch.
“The new mini-pitch at Oscar Charleston Park will allow even more residents to play soccer with their friends, families, and neighbors,” said Mayor Joseph Hogsett. “We know that quality parks can help build community ties, increase healthy lifestyle choices, and provide benefits to the local environment and economy. That’s why the City is putting significant funding towards parks and greenspaces in neighborhoods throughout Indianapolis.”
In addition to the mini-pitch at Oscar Charleston Park, mini-pitches honoring BPC and BWPC have been completed in Hawthorne, CA, San Diego, CA, Orlando, FL, and Louisville, KY 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.
“The BWPC could not be more excited for this mini-pitch to open at Oscar Charleston Park,” said Imani Dorsey, Executive Board Member of the BWPC. “We hope this pitch provides a safe space to discover and enjoy the game of soccer, while also encouraging its users to learn more about some of the women playing at the highest level. Enjoy the pitch and we hope to be there in person with you all soon!”
“Youth today are facing a host of challenges with the continued spread of COVID-19 causing disruptions in school and activities,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “That’s why we are thrilled to continue opening new mini-pitches across the country, like the one at Oscar Charleston Park. These new spaces not only provide a safe place to play our game, but make it easier for children to be physically active and connect with friends and coaches. Even more, these mini-pitches honoring BPC and BWPC inspire the next generation and provide role models that look like them on and off the field.”
“The project at Oscar Charleston Park honoring Ray Gaddis is a great example of how impactful the Black Players for Change and Black Women’s Player Collective initiatives can be,” said Jeff Rogers, President of Musco. “For years to come, these kids and families are going to have a high-quality space to enjoy the sport, develop important life skills, and have fun. We’re proud to be a part of it.”
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 INDY PARKS
Indy Parks and Recreation provides parks, greenspaces, trails, and recreation opportunities for Marion County residents and visitors. The agency offers 212 parks, 11,258 acres of greenspace, 130 playgrounds, 155 sports fields, 153 miles of trails, 23 recreation and nature centers, 19 aquatic centers, 21 spray grounds, 13 golf courses, and four dog parks. Indy Parks also provides a range of sports, art, education, and recreation programs and more than 2,400 programs throughout the year. For more information about Indy Parks programs and services, visit parks.indy.gov, call (317) 327-PARK, or email IndyParksCS@indy.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
Ronnetta Spalding, Indy Parks and Recreation