Switch the Pitch Launches
The Anti-Racist Project´s new initiative mobilises coaches and players
Common Goal and Soccer Without Borders (SWB) have teamed up to launch Switch the Pitch to help unite the US football community around anti-racist education and action.
The project uses a coach training series, interactive team challenges, and a virtual league to enable coaches and young players to tackle racism and foster inclusivity.
“Switch the Pitch is a much-needed initiative in the soccer space to help create a more inclusive and anti-racist environment,” said Naomi Girma, the NWSL 2022 number one draft pick and San Diego Wave defender.
“Its action-orientated approach to educating players and coaches across the youth game is going to revolutionise the way we learn to combat racism in our sport.”
The initiative was designed by Soccer Without Borders with support from fellow Common Goal football for good organisations Soccer in the Streets and DC Scores.
It is part of Common Goal’s Anti-Racist Project (ARP), a collective project involving professional football clubs Oakland Roots, Chicago Fire, and Angel City, fan groups such as the American Outlaws and The Curse, Common Goal impact sponsors adidas and DAZN, the podcast London is Blue, Kickoff Coffee, football for good organisations, players, and other stakeholders from across the game.
“Switch the Pitch was designed by coaches for coaches,” commented Soccer Without Borders coach and Switch the Pitch coordinator Mia Golin.
One of the central components, an “Inclusive Coach” training programme, enables grassroot football coaches to engage their teams in a series of on-field team challenges that are designed to educate, activate, and facilitate conversations around key topics such as racial identity, allyship, activism, and leadership.
The coach training series revolves around six themes – empathy, safety, vulnerability, appreciation, awareness, and authenticity. For every topic, expert trainers explain three essential skills in a video that can be immediately incorporated into coaches’ training plans.
Additionally, coaches will have access to 36 progressive and interactive team challenges.
Team Challenges are split into six modules – Identity and Perspectives, Allyship and Collective Action, Activism and Leadership, Preventing and Responding to Racism, Access and Resources, and Power and Policies.
“Soccer is such a powerful platform and coaches have a huge opportunity to use that platform to engage their players and encourage them to think critically about the world around them,” said Kaiya McCullough who works on the Anti-Racist Project and is a former Washington Spirit player.
“Our goal with Switch the Pitch is to empower and prepare coaches to prioritise building an inclusive team culture.”
All content is introduced through a combination of expert coaches and professional footballer players like Naomi Girma and others from across the Anti-Racist Project´s coalition.
Registration is still possible. Any coach who signs up for the pilot season is granted access to the platform which includes exclusive content and feedback from coaches on how to improve and adapt challenges for future sessions.
The goal is to be able to scale this project to the entirety of the US football landscape.
Join the Switch the Pitch coalition and help support the initiative in 2023 and beyond: https://switchthepitch.org/