Despite the consistent successes from Black female athletes in all aspects of professional sports, they still remain an afterthought when it comes to providing more opportunities for them to flourish. In an effort to abolish those barriers standing in the way of future advancements in the game of soccer, Adidas and the Black Women’s Player Collective (BWPC) are teaming up to "change the narrative of Black women and girls in soccer by demanding equity, representation and access at all levels of the game."
Per the Women's Sports Foundation, 77% of women say the absence of female mentors hinder the involvement of girls in athletics. Their findings also show the drop-out estimate for girls of color in urban and rural centers is twice that compared to suburban white youths.
Led by Black female professional soccer athletes, this alliance will develop a community of female soccer players and supporters dedicated to exposing young Black girls to new opportunities for long-term prosperity.
"There wasn't anyone that looked like me that played soccer, and even in the media there was a lack of dark skinned women," NJ/NY Gotham FC player and BWPC board member Ifeoma Onumonu told Yahoo Sports. "I still think that we face a lot of those issues today and I hope to be a part of that change in terms of representation. I used to censor myself when things were said that I didn't like. I didn't speak up because I was afraid of being kicked out of the group. These days kids are not necessarily shy to speak up about problems, Although there is a lot of things people say about social platforms, they build a collective and I think a lot of these kids have found a group of other young people they connect with. I think that's the beauty that social media has brought."
Three Stripes is working alongside the BWPC and U.S. Soccer Foundation (USSF) to build 12 mini pitches in Black communities across America by the end of 2021. To help curb the staggering drop-out rate for girls of color sports, Adidas is also working alongside the BWPC to establish soccer clinics for girls age 8-15 in cities like Atlanta, Durham, Orlando and Chicago.
"Community is so important. If we can provide that to girls, whether it's at a BWPC mini pitch event where we engage with kids one-on-one or by looking at our social media handles and what we're putting out to the public, I think we've done our jobs," Onumonu's teammate Imani Dorsey shared with Yahoo Sports.
In addition to focusing on Black neighborhoods, Adidas and the USSF have a larger goal to install 1,000 mini pitches across other underserved communities by 2026. Check out their progress and find a pitch near you via this interactive map.