The mini-pitches at West Side High School. (Photo courtesy of the Red Bulls)
NEWARK, N.J. –The first mini-pitches honoring Black Players for Change were unveiled at West Side High School Monday.
To mark the occasion, members of BPC, Black executives from the Red Bulls and the U.S. Soccer Foundation, and the West Side H.S. soccer team participated in small group discussions to talk about their own personal experiences and challenges facing Black communities today. The group also conducted a ceremonial first kick to dedicate the new mini-pitches. These mini-pitches are part of a larger national mini-pitch effort announced in August.
Visuals of prominent Black athletes, including some notable figures from the Red Bulls, surround the mini-pitches, which will be used by the high school soccer team, other students, and community members for practices, structured programs and pick-up play.
“We are very excited to see this project come to life so quickly,” Justin Morrow,
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.”
Red Bulls are the first MLS club to partner with BPC, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Musco Lighting, and adidas on mini-pitches that honor BPC.
Since 2018, RBNY alongside the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Newark Board of Education, and Wells Fargo have been working to increase access to safe places to play and evidence-based soccer programming at Newark Public Schools. Over five years, the goal is to create 20 mini-pitches and engage more than 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,” Red Bulls sporting director Denis Hamlett said in a statement. “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.”
Added co-founder and director of strategic partnerships for BPC Quincy Amarikwa: “We’re very excited to bring both adidas and RBNY in as partners on this monumental project. Their ability to quickly see the value of BPC and swift commitment to our organization has been refreshing to see, especially in these times. Action through commitments like this will create the change we’re all committed to seeing come to fruition.”