Christen Press, one of the few Black female players in the National Women’s Soccer League, is partnering with Degree to launch a new initiative “Change the Field,” with a goal of encouraging more girls of color to become soccer players.
Press, a two times World Cup Champion and Angel City Forward, might be currently out with an injury, but she’s still putting in the work to give a red card to racism.
The research is clear. According to a 2020 report from the Women’s Sports Foundation, “[g]irls of color…enter sports later, participate in lower numbers, and drop out earlier than white girls.”
Soccer is no exception, especially considering the dearth of Black female players at the professional level. “From the first Women’s World Cup in 1991 through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the U.S. fielded just 19 Black..players on its world championship rosters,” Los Angeles Times reports.
Fortunately, the tide seems to be shifting slightly, considering this year at the Women’s World Cup, the U.S. Women’s National Team had its most diverse team ever, with seven Black women on the roster. This change has been a long time coming.
Press was inspired to be the face of this campaign in part because of her parents, telling Just Women’s Sports that when she was growing up, “her parents sponsored inner-city girls to join her club teams throughout her career, resulting in rosters that were more diverse and inclusive than the norm.”
“As a Black woman and professional soccer player, I am committed to using my own voice and platform to inspire girls of color to keep joining the sport, but also inspire the sport’s leaders to foster inclusive and diverse atmospheres for these girls,” Press said.
“Degree and I share a passion for advancing the sport toward a more inclusive environment, which is why I hope my message encourages coaches, players, and leaders alike to implement Degree’s inclusivity modules in their communities,” continued Press.
Director of Degree North America Desi Okeke said, “We’re committed to making soccer a more welcoming space for the next generation of players” adding, “the Degree® Change the Field program is the epitome of that notion, calling on coaches and soccer communities across the U.S. to help create a world where girls everywhere feel seen, supported, and have the confidence to thrive on and off the field.”
The Change the Field program is a new component to Degree’s Breaking Limits program, to which the Unilever company has committed more than $5 million over the last five years, which supports people who face barriers to activity, also providing them with mentors, coaches, and safe spaces.
Per the press release, “Degree’s Change the Field program is working to create safe and inclusive environments for girls of color on and off the field with the Girls Can series…The free ‘Girls Can’ training modules will help equip coaches, teachers and community leaders with the skills and knowledge to ensure that equal opportunities in soccer exist for women and girls everywhere.”