Atlanta, GA – A new mini soccer pitch honoring members of the Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC) was officially unveiled at Smith Elementary School in Rex on Saturday. Joined by students and educators from the school, members from the BWPC, Musco Lighting, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation participated in a ribbon cutting at the mini-pitch as part of a grand opening celebration.
This mini-pitch is one of 12 being installed in a national partnership between Black Players for Change (BPC), the 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 creating mini-pitches in underserved areas of communities that lack access to safe places to play. The mini-pitch at Smith Elementary School honors the women of the BWPC in imagery and quotes surrounding the pitch.
Following the ribbon cutting, BWPC members Domi Richardson, Miranda Freeman, Jasmyne Spencer, and Jennifer Cudjoe led two soccer clinics for girls from the elementary school. Members expressed their excitement at the event ahead of the clinics.
“I’m so excited for this clinic. It’s an amazing opportunity to introduce young black girls to the sport of soccer and hopefully inspire them to always believe in themselves and their dreams,” said Jasmyne Spencer, BWPC board member and member of the Houston Dash.
“The opening of these mini-pitches is so exciting! Soccer has been a way to help me build valuable life skills and character and has always allowed me to express myself,” said Domi Richardson, member of BWPC and Gotham FC. “Being able to provide a space for these kids to play a sport that can unlock so many avenues for the future is one of the best ways to give back to our community. Soccer is so much more than just a sport and I hope that these mini-pitches and clinics provide joy for everyone involved!”
“The opening of the mini-pitches and the opportunities they will provide kids of color to play and develop in a safe environment is so incredible and important,” said Mandy Freeman, member of BWPC and Gotham FC. “I am really looking forward to the clinic! I believe it will truly be an invaluable experience for both the kids and all the BWPC players involved. The representation of Black women in soccer needs to be showcased more and this is an amazing opportunity to do so.”
“Growing up as a kid, I never saw a playground like the mini-pitches. It is really amazing and exciting to see the opening of the mini-pitches and be a part of it,” said Jennifer Cudjoe, member of BWPC and Gotham FC. “Soccer has always given me a sense of peace and happiness in my life. It also gave me the opportunity to express myself without saying a word. This is an incredible opportunity for me to be part of this group, give back to the next generation, and teach them the value of the game and the impact it can have on our lives.”
In addition to the mini-pitch at Smith Elementary School, mini-pitches honoring BPC and BWPC have been completed in Hawthorne, CA, San Diego, CA, Orlando, FL, Indianapolis, IN, and Louisville, KY as part of the national partnership with adidas, Musco Lighting, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation.
“We’re thrilled to continue opening and celebrating mini-pitches that honor members of the BWPC and BPC,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “Research shows that Black communities are significantly more likely to lack recreational facilities than white communities and that Black girls are less likely to play soccer than their white peers. This initiative is changing that reality. We will continue working with our with our partners to provide more opportunities for youth—regardless of their race, gender, or socioeconomic status—to gain all the lifelong benefits that come with playing our game.”
“This is a really impactful initiative that we think will make a big difference in the lives of youth in Rex for years to come,” said Jeff Rogers, President of Musco Lighting. “We applaud Black Players for Change and the Black Women’s Player Collective, as well as the U.S. Soccer Foundation and our other partners, for their dedication to expanding recreational and learning opportunities for these families. We look forward to keeping this momentum going and continuing with this important work.”
Earlier this month, BWPC announced that adidas will serve as a long-term partner of the organization and help them change the narrative of Black women and girls in soccer by demanding equity, representation, and access at all levels of the game.
Other partners have also joined this effort in support of the BPC and the BWPC.
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 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 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 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.
Jennifer Arnold, U.S. Soccer Foundation