Black Women’s Player Collective x Adidas: A Match Made In Soccer HeavenBy Chinenye Onyeike
Nov. 3 2021, Published 4:03 a.m. ET
Adidas and the Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC) join forces to improve the representation of Black girls and women in soccer. As the non-for-profit’s presenting partner, Adidas plans to help elevate diversity and accessibility within soccer. BWPC Board members lead the way in helping young Black girls see that they can play at a professional level.
Professional Black Women Soccer Players Lacked Black Role Models Growing Up
The collective comprises professional women’s soccer players who felt they didn’t have enough role models growing up. Board member Imani Dorsey states, “when I think about who I looked up to in terms of playing, it was all white male players. And I think that affected, sort of, my trajectory through the sport.” The players of the collective act as mentors for young soccer players. They expose young girls to a diverse arrangement of career options before and after playing.
Between 1999 and 2016, the number of NCAA Division 1 women’s soccer players increased from 2.9% to 6.8%. Although we’re seeing improvement, lack of access creates a disconnect between Black players and competitive soccer teams. The Undefeated broke down this issue in a 2017 article. “In 2015, census records show that 642,000 more black households made a total income of $100,000 or more compared with the total in 1999.” Former national team goalkeeper Briana Scurry attributes her access to elite level soccer to her family’s ability to move to the suburbs. When players’ families can’t afford the cost of competitive soccer teams, coaches miss them in the recruitment process. The BWPC works to combat this issue with their mini pitch initiative.
Mini Pitches Create More Space For Soccer Players
Mini pitches allow players to practice without involvement with a team. In partnership with Black Players for Change, US Soccer Foundation, Musco Lighting and Adidas, BWPC plans to construct and install 12 mini pitches across United States cities by the end of 2021. The Collective also plans to host clinics for young soccer players that will allow young girls to have face to face time with professional Black women soccer players. The programs within these pitches will focus on community, education and wellness in addition to soccer.
Diving Deeper Into The Experiences Of Black Professional Athletes
Two mini pitches were installed at the end of 2020 at the RH Dana Middle School in Hawthorne, California and Clairemont Branch of the Boys and Girls Club of San Diego.In addition to their current projects, the BWPC has a production in the works called The Call Up. In partnership with Wildly LLC, this docu-series plans to narrow in on the commonalities among Black professional athletes. Some of the featured athletes include Margaret Purce, Jasmyne Spencer, Sarah Gordon and BWPC co-founder Crystal Dunn.
Representation promotes inspiration and young Black girls deserve to see themselves at high levels. Board member Ifeoma Onumonu states, “it’s not only about the individual impact we have on one young girl, but hopefully the message that we can send around soccer and the culture of soccer in this country and changing it for the better.” With Adidas on their side, the BWPC serves as a staple resource for young Black soccer players for years to come.