New York, NY – Today, the New York City Soccer Initiative (NYCSI) partners—the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, NYC Parks, New York City Football Club (NYCFC), the U.S. Soccer Foundation, adidas, and Etihad Airways—announced that a new mini-soccer pitch is now open at Colonel Charles Young Playground in Harlem, a park named after a pioneering African American Army officer, cartographer, teacher, and diplomat. The mini-pitch is part of the five-year partnership to construct 50 community pitches across all five boroughs by the end of 2021.
This mini-pitch is unique because it was created in partnership with and designed by Black Players for Change (BPC) and Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC)—two independent Black player-led organizations focused on tackling racial injustices in society and in the game of soccer. BPC and BWPC members plan to visit the site often and form long-term relationships with the youth programs offered at the park.
“Announcing a project like this on what will be seen and learned as a pivotal day in Black Soccer history is inspiring. To see BPC and BWPC come together to advocate as one voice in partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation and NYCFC while continuing our work to build paths of equity in our game is extraordinary,” said Quincy Amarikwa, Founder and Director of Strategic Partnerships of BPC. “A big thank you to the Mayor’s Fund, adidas, and Etihad for committing to a long-term vision and recognizing the value of these forward-thinking organizations.”
"We are overjoyed by the installation of this mini-pitch at Colonel Charles Young Playground in Harlem. The BWPC aims to share Black experiences with the general public while also making the sport of soccer increasingly accessible to BIPOC communities,” said Imani Dorsey, BWPC Executive Board Member. “This pitch, its location, and its coming together in time for Juneteenth marks an unprecedented celebration of blackness in the soccer community we are proud to be a part of. Thank you to the tireless work of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, NYCFC, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, Etihad Airways, and adidas to recognize the vision we and BPC had for this pitch and bringing it to life for all to enjoy."
NYCFC CEO Brad Sims commented:
“Today, on Juneteenth, we are so proud to unveil our newest community mini-soccer pitch in Harlem alongside NYCFC partners from Black Players for Change (BPC) and the Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC). This pitch will help us continue providing access to free soccer, safe places for young people to play, and shine a light on the need for equality throughout urban neighborhoods. This new pitch, dedicated to the need for change, is the latest development in our larger New York City Soccer Initiative which will see 50 mini-pitches constructed in underserved areas across the five boroughs by the end of 2021.
We are proud to be a part of – and represent – such a diverse City. We have pledged to make impactful and ongoing change across New York City and will continue to foster an inclusive culture in line with our core values of equality and respect.”
Launched in 2016, NYCSI was the first-of-its-kind, $3 million public-private partnership to create and maintain 50 mini-pitches across the city over five years and expand free soccer programming to 10,000 young New Yorkers. This pitch is the 42nd to be completed—with all 50 expected to be installed later this fall.
Free programming—including the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program run by the Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) and NYCFC’s City in the Community (CITC) youth programming—will run at all of these locations. These programs aim to further reduce barriers to the game for children of color and those living in underserved communities as well as connect children with coach-mentors and teach critical life skills.
The Colonel Charles Young Playground mini-pitch is the third mini-pitch BPC and BWPC have partnered on so far to provide greater access for Black children to play the game. Two pitches in Hawthorne and San Diego, California opened earlier this year as part of a 12-mini-pitch initiative led by the two groups in partnership with adidas, Musco Lighting, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation. The ten other pitches will be completed this year. The partners will also work to ensure that the pitches are open for pick-up play and that there are opportunities for high-quality soccer programs, such as the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program, which also seeks to remove barriers to the game and use the game to teach critical life skills and healthy habits.
“We’re proud to open this new mini-pitch on Juneteenth in a park that honors a prominent Black Army officer,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “Through these partnerships and our work, we strive to ensure that every child—no matter their race—has an opportunity to play our game and has role models that look like them on and off the field.”
“Creating safe spaces, like these soccer mini-pitches, for all children to come play, exercise, and engage with one another is an extraordinary accomplishment and a moment to be celebrated. Thank you to the U.S. Soccer Foundation, New York City Football Club, adidas, and Etihad Airways for bringing the gift of soccer to communities all across our city,” said Daniele Baierlein and Jorge Luis Paniagua Valle, Co-Executive Directors of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “We would also like to recognize the Black Players for Change (BPC) and Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC) for their dedication to this project and creativity in designing the latest pitch. The grand-opening of this mini-pitch at Colonel Young Playground, in a neighborhood that is steeped in civil rights history, brings us one step closer to bending the arc of equality back towards justice for all."
"We are happy to welcome this new mini soccer pitch to Colonel Charles Young Playground as we commemorate Juneteenth and honor the Black experience in New York City," said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. "The mini-pitch will expand access to recreational opportunities and serve as a resource for the Harlem community. We thank New York City Football Club, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Black Players for Change, Black Women’s Player Collective, and all who came together to make this happen."
A grand opening of this Harlem mini-pitch and other park improvements will be held in the coming weeks.
ABOUT BLACK PLAYERS FOR CHANGE
Black Players for Change (BPC) is an independent 501(c)(3) organization consisting of over 170+ Black 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 rights inequalities from protest to programs, partnerships and policies that address systemic discrimination. For more information visit www.BlackPlayersForChange.org or follow us on Twitter and Instagram. #TogetherThereWillBeChange
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.