The first mini-pitches honoring Black Players for Change were unveiled at West Side High School in Newark, New Jersey on Monday in conjunction with those from the New York Red Bulls and the U.S. Soccer Foundation.
Visuals of prominent Black athletes, including those from RBNY history, surround the fields. They’re slated to be used by local students and members of the community for practices, structured programs and pick-up games.
“We are very excited to see this project come to life so quickly,” Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow, who’s also the co-founder and executive director of BPC, said in a statement. “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.”
Since 2018, RBNY has worked to increase safe-space access to play and soccer-based programming at Newark Public Schools. Their goal is to create 20 mini-pitches and engage over 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,” Denis Hamlett, RBNY sporting director, said. “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.”
Each mini-pitch includes lighting, fencing goals, lockable storage and ADA-compliant access. A lighted mini pitch, on average, allows for nearly three additional hours of play per day. Now, adidas will join 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.
“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,” Ed Foster-Simeon, president & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, said. “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.”