NEWARK, NJ–The first mini-pitches honoring Black Players for Change (BPC) were unveiled at West Side High School in Newark, NJ today. To mark the occasion, members of BPC, Black executives from New York Red Bulls (RBNY) and the U.S. Soccer Foundation, and the West Side High School soccer team participated in small group discussions to talk about their own personal experiences and challenges facing Black communities today. The group also conducted a ceremonial first kick to officially dedicate the new mini-pitches. These mini-pitches are part of a larger national mini-pitch effort announced in August.
Visuals of prominent Black athletes, including some notable figures from RBNY, surround the mini-pitches, which will be used by the West Side High School soccer team, other students, and community members for practices, structured programs, and pick-up play.
“We are very excited to see this project come to life so quickly,” said Justin Morrow,
Co-Founder and Executive Director of BPC. “These new mini-pitches in Newark are just the beginning of our efforts to create mini-pitches in Black communities nationwide and provide more opportunities for youth of color to play our game at the grassroots level and benefit from all that playing soccer offers,” Morrow concluded.
“These mini-pitches build on our efforts in Newark with the New York Red Bulls to provide easier access and more opportunities for youth across the city to play our game,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “Celebrating the creation of these new pitches with West Side High School students will also provide them with a forum for honest conversations with a variety of leaders — including members of Black Players for Change — who serve as role models on and off the field.”
RBNY is the first MLS club to partner with BPC, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Musco Lighting, and adidas on mini-pitches that honor BPC. Since 2018, RBNY alongside the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Newark Board of Education, and Wells Fargo have been working to dramatically increase access to safe places to play and evidence-based soccer programming at Newark Public Schools. Over five years, the goal is to create 20 mini-pitches and engage more than 2,500 Newark students in the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program.
“Our entire club is deeply honored to have the opportunity to pay tribute to the admirable actions and efforts of Black Players for Change with brand new mini-pitches for our neighbors in Newark, NJ,” said Denis Hamlett, Sporting Director, New York Red Bulls. “Along with our valued partners led by the U.S. Soccer Foundation, we are committed to providing beautiful spaces throughout Newark Public Schools for children to learn and play the game of soccer.”
At the event, it was also announced that adidas has joined BPC, Musco Lighting, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation as a national partner to install at least 12 mini-pitches honoring BPC over the next year. adidas is a longtime partner of the U.S. Soccer Foundation and has partnered with the Foundation on the creation of more than 70 mini-pitches since 2016—including the 20-for-20 Initiative to honor Major League Soccer’s 20th season and as a founding partner in the New York City Soccer Initiative aimed at creating 50 mini-pitches across all five boroughs by 2022.
“We’re very excited to bring both adidas and RBNY in as partners on this monumental project,” said Quincy Amarikwa, Co-Founder and Director of Strategic Partnerships for BPC. “Their ability to quickly see the value of BPC and swift commitment to our organization has been refreshing to see, especially in these times. Action through commitments like this will create the change we’re all committed to seeing come to fruition,” Amarikwa concluded.
“We believe that through sport, we have the power to change lives and are excited to expand our partnership with U.S. Soccer Foundation and Black Players for Change to impact the Black communities we serve. We are dedicated to providing safe places to play, breaking barriers to sport, and creating an equal starting line for all young boys and girls of color,” said Scot Thompson, Sr. Manager of Soccer Sports Marketing for adidas.
Each Mini-Pitch System™ modular sports solution 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.
“This effort is about creating opportunities for youth in Newark to learn and grow as individuals, and we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of that,” said Jeff Rogers, Vice President of Developmental Sales for Musco. “Participating in soccer and team sports can offer so many benefits in terms of developing essential skills for life, habits for fitness, teamwork, and friendships. Removing systemic barriers and providing safer spaces for that to happen is something we strongly believe in.”
To learn more about this initiative, visit Black Players for Change.
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.
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.
For more information on Musco’s innovative lighting solutions, visit: www.musco.com.
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.