WASHINGTON, DC–Today, Black Players for Change, Musco Lighting, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation announced that community mini-pitches will be installed in honor of the founding 12 Executive Board Members of Black Players for Change (BPC) over the course of the next year. These mini-pitches are part of a new, long-term partnership between the organizations aimed at removing systemic barriers that keep children of color from playing the game.
“We are committed to investment at all levels of our game, especially at the grassroots level. These mini-pitches address a real barrier— lack of access to a safe place to play—that leaves too many Black youth from having a path to build equity in our game,” said Quincy Amarikwa, Co-Founder and Director of Relationships & Strategic Partnerships for BPC. “Partnering with U.S. Soccer Foundation and Musco is the first step in creating real, tangible assets, invested in local communities to serve as a launching pad for future investment, creating dividends of impact over the long term,” concluded Amarikwa.
“We’re thrilled to come together with the U.S. Soccer Foundation and Musco Lighting to create this opportunity. This is only the beginning of our efforts to grow the game in Black communities and we look forward to scaling nationwide in order to ensure equitable access to soccer for the next generation,” said Justin Morrow, Co-Founder and Executive Director of BPC.
“It’s important for Black children to see people who look like them and who have made it to the highest levels of their careers,” said U.S. Soccer Foundation President & CEO Ed Foster-Simeon. “Children playing on these pitches will be reminded every day that they too can succeed in their chosen path—whether that is as a professional soccer player, a doctor or any other chosen career. The U.S. Soccer Foundation is honored to work alongside Black Players for Change to provide more opportunities for youth to play our game.”
To complete these first 12 mini-pitches, the organizations have pledged to raise and invest more than $1.8 million in the project. The first mini-pitch location will be announced in the coming weeks.
According to Active Living Research, one study found that 70 percent of African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods did not have any recreational facilities. In comparison, only 38 percent of White neighborhoods lacked recreational facilities. Furthermore, only about one third of Black and Hispanic children ages 6 to 12 play sports on a regular basis according to the Aspen Institute.
The Mini-Pitch System™ modular sports solution helps combat these challenges by providing community members with safer places for free play. The spaces can also be used by local organizations to run high-quality, free or low-cost youth soccer programs, including the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program. In line with the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s mission, partners will prioritize selection of mini-pitch locations in underserved areas of the communities that lack access to safe places to play.
Each athlete will visit his hometown community for the grand opening of the mini-pitch and will help elevate Black voices in the community. Images of prominent Black athletes will surround the mini-pitch.
The U.S. Soccer Foundation has a long history of engaging youth of color to deliver positive outcomes through sports. Forty-eight percent of participants in its Soccer for Success program are Hispanic and 34 percent are African-American.
Surveys show that 88% of participants in the Soccer for Success program work better on a team, 86% avoid anti-social behavior, and 83% have improved health outcomes. U.S. Soccer Foundation surveys also show that communities benefit from the creation of a mini-pitch: 98% say that people in their community are more active and 98% say that the community feels safer.
The 12 mini-pitches are made possible thanks to a significant investment by Musco Lighting. Musco has been involved in providing structural support for lighting systems for more than 40 years and has partnered in projects with the U.S. Soccer Foundation for more than 20 years. They have worked with the Foundation to develop the structure for the Mini-Pitch System, installing and refining the system over the past two years. It 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.
“We believe very strongly in the mission of empowering youth in underserved communities with opportunities to come together, grow, develop essential life skills, and have fun in a safer, well-lit, high-quality environment,” said Jeff Rogers, Vice President of Development Sales at Musco. “That’s exactly what Black Players for Change and the U.S. Soccer Foundation have dedicated themselves to with this initiative, and we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it.”
To learn more about mini-pitches visit https://ussoccerfoundation.org/programs/safe-places-to-play-mini-pitches/.
About Black Players for Change
Black Players for Change (BPC) is an organization consisting of over 100+ 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 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 the most innovative systems using metal halide and LED technologies, resulting in an unparalleled ability to control glare and protect neighborhoods from light spill in a way that’s cost effective and energy efficient. Musco has been engineering systems around the LED for nearly 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.