Professional Soccer Players Share Personal Insights on How Racism Impacts the Game
On May 1st, a panel of current and former professional soccer players from the MLS, NWSL, and USL gathered for View from the Pitch, a discussion on how racism impacts the game and how we all can take action to make the sport more inclusive and equitable for everyone.
The special event was presented by Switch the Pitch, Soccer Without Borders' anti-racism education program created in partnership with Common Goal. The Oakland-based training hub – powered by Oakland Roots SC – brings together 40 coaches from youth soccer clubs around the Bay Area to participate in an experiential, interactive curriculum designed for coaches and teams to tackle issues like discrimination, unconscious bias, power dynamics, and incidents of racism.
Moderated by retired USL player and Switch the Pitch Specialist Brandon Miller, the player panel event included an engaging discussion and personal insights from:
Duke Lacroix; current USL player with the Colorado Springs Switchbacks and board member of the United Black Players of the USL
Kaiya McCullough; activist, Harvard Law student, and former player with the UCLA Bruins and the NWSL’s Washington Spirit
Evan Whitfield; attorney, retired MLS player, and current Vice President of Equity, Alumni Relations, and Engagement at Chicago Fire FC
Among the incredibly important topics discussed, the panelists reflected on what allyship means to them, how individuals can approach activism, and how we can all work to better improve access to the game.
“Allyship is internal, it's interpersonal, and it's community-based,” reflected Duke. “Allyship should be intentional until it is second nature. You have to intentionally think about how your peer’s perspectives are different from your own and how that can affect the larger collective.”
While addressing the topic of activism and building movements, the panel discussed the importance of grassroots, ground-up approaches and how they enable activists to better fill gaps and meet local communities where they are.
“Starting from that perspective, and changing your perspective in that way first, is a great first step,” Kaiya explained. “Then [you can] take steps from there to figure out how to empower those around you. While this may seem cliché and may seem bold, I think that this framing is a huge step in the right direction.”
>> Learn more about Switch the Pitch - Oakland Roots Hub
Watch the event in its entirety: