The year 2021 has served as a huge wake up call for diligent action to be taken for Black female athletes to be provided with more opportunities, proper recognition — and most importantly — better care. To help in dismantling the structural barriers that they face, the Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC) is building a community for Black female athletes in soccer.
Black women continue to dominate in their respective sports and bring value to the game, yet the support they receive doesn’t always match up. Founded by Black players in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), BWPC is an organization taking action to expedite the movement for Black women to acquire equity, representation and access in the sports industry.
With the mission of helping to shift the culture, adidas recently became a long-term partner of BWPC and is spearheading an initiative to connect young Black girls and women in soccer across the country.
adidas and BWPC’s partnership aims to foster a space of inclusivity and diversity for Black female soccer players and in turn for the representation to encourage more Black girls to play soccer.
“I believe this partnership can help create a shift in soccer culture by exposing more young Black girls to the sport of soccer by bringing greater visibility to the Black women playing the sport currently,” NWSL player and BWPC Board Member Ifeoma Onumonu told AfroTech in an exclusive interview. “adidas is providing Black women a platform to share their experiences with the world. By sharing our experiences, we are bringing awareness to systemic barriers that have kept soccer in this country a predominantly white sport. Our commitment to programming in underserved communities with the help of adidas will hopefully expose more kids from these communities to play soccer. It is then our job to make the sport more accessible so kids want to continue to play the sport.”
Under the partnership, a press release states adidas is working with the BWPC and the U.S. Soccer Foundation to install 12 soccer mini-pitches across Black communities before the close of the year. The brand also hopes to help enact change in regards to the high drop-out rate for young Black girls between the ages of eight and 15 in urban centers by creating soccer clinics in Atlanta, Durham, Orlando and Chicago.
“adidas is committed to making actionable change and has done incredible work with the US Soccer Foundation on many pitches and the Soccer For Success program,” NWSL player and BWPC’s Imani Dorsey says. “I think that’s why it’s so important that we’re partnering with adidas because they actually want to make a difference. We saw how important it is to have direct access to underserved communities and the many pitches adidas has been willing and ready to support with the BWPC will hopefully continue to help us provide more programming in these communities in the future.”
Along with soccer clinics, the BWPC board members will be connecting with the Black youth on a larger scale on the mini-pitches through wellness events, guest speakers and educational seminars. The Black female professional soccer players of the BWPC are leading by example and Onumonu says they hope to “show young Black women and girls that they are truly capable of anything.”
“I hope our initiative brings greater visibility to Black pro female athletes like the women of the Black Women’s Player Collective,” Dorsey says. “Whether it is online or at a BWPC mini-pitch, I hope young Black girls see themselves represented when they see our members on billboards in stores or social media posts sharing their stories. I hope young Black girls leave our soccer clinics inspired with their eyes wide open to all they can achieve. Because I know soccer opens so many doors — not just the opportunity to become a professional athlete.”