Two new soccer mini-pitches honoring members of Black Players for Change (BPC) and Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC) are now open at Holmes Middle School in Alexandria and Hampton Middle School in Woodbridge. The mini-pitches are two of 18 that were recently completed as part of 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 Holmes Middle School honors D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid who grew up in the area.
“I’ve been working to gift a mini-pitch to my hometown for many years now,” said Bill Hamid. “I’m amazed and so thankful to finally see it happen. Thanks to BPC and U.S. Soccer Foundation, kids in the DMV will have access to the beautiful game like never before. This is a real dream come true.”
“The mini-pitch at Holmes Middle School had an immediate positive impact for our students,” said Holmes Middle School Principal Margaret Barnes. “Soccer is a popular sport among our students and to have such a high-quality pitch to play on was exciting and energizing for our students who use it during gym class, our 15-minute break, and in our after-school program. We are grateful for this partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation and Black Players for Change.”
According to Nico Wood, French Teacher and Soccer Club Sponsor at Holmes Middle School, the addition of the mini-pitch pitch has been fundamental to the success of a new after-school soccer program which is held 3-4 days a week for both boys and girls. The program consistently has 50 to sometimes more than 70 students who stay after school for a couple of hours to enjoy both 11v11 full side games on the grass pitches and now 7v7 futsal style matches on the mini-pitch. The free to play nature of the program and quality of the mini-pitch gives players of every skill level an organized opportunity to participate in the game they love.
For Nashville SC forward CJ Sapong, the mini-pitch at Hampton Middle School is of particular significance for the native Virginian as well.
“The honor and humility I feel through the opening of the mini-pitch at Hampton Middle School runs deep for me,” said CJ Sapong. “I look back on the youth experiences I had on those very same fields and see a younger version of myself just wanting to play and feel safe. Through my own individual journey, and with the guidance of BPC and U.S. Soccer Foundation, I can smile from within knowing that impact will be made in the lives of the many children who now have access to a space that allows them to play with full freedom.”
“Prince William County Public Schools and Hampton Middle School are appreciative of Black Players for Change, Black Women’s Player Collective, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Musco Lighting, and adidas for their efforts to expand opportunities for all students through their donation of the soccer mini-pitch or futsal court at Hampton Middle,” said Diana Gulotta, Director of Communications for Prince William County Public Schools. “This provides access to an additional recreational activity that is beneficial to the health and well-being of our students. This partnership reflects the PWCS Vision 2025 Launching Thriving Futures Strategic Plan’s commitment to working with community agencies to support strategic initiatives benefiting our students.”
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.
“I am grateful that the BWPC is a part of this mini-pitch initiative with our incredible partners,” said BWPC Executive Board Member Imani Dorsey. “Mini-pitches help us connect with black girls across the country and bring the sport we love directly to them. The mini-pitches are a place of joy, inspiration, and exploration that we are proud to bring to black communities across the country. We hope their inclusion introduces many to the sport of soccer, but also reminds them what they can accomplish in their own lives.”
“What this group of partners has been able to accomplish in just one year is incredible,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “Not only do children now have more safe places to play right in their neighborhoods, but they have been connected with athletes and mentors who look like them, which is so important to helping them see themselves in all aspects of our sport and society.”
Other mini-pitches that are part of the initiative are in Durham, NC; Fresno, CA; Hawthorne, CA; Houston, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Kissimmee, FL; Louisville, KY; Rex, GA; Sacramento, CA; and San Diego, CA.
In addition to the 12 mini-pitches funded by BPC, BWPC, Musco Lighting, adidas, 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