streetfootballworld have announced a new campaign to make LGBTQ+ youth feel more safe on the soccer field. Homophobia and discrimination still pose a major obstacle for LGBTQ+ youth to access soccer programs around the world. Soccer coaches lack the skills and knowledge to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ players.
Today, 73% of people don't believe team sports are safe and welcoming environments for LGBTQ+ youth, and more than 40% of LGBTQ+ youth believe their communities don't accept them. And it starts with our coaches. Many are often ill-equipped to support and protect LGBTQ+ kids.
Play Proud is a global initiative working to change that reality. It is transforming soccer teams around the world by giving coaches the education and training they need to make sure every young person feels safe and accepted, both on and off the field.
streetfootballworld has over 35,000 coaches in their network, who directly impact 2.5 million youth worldwide, waiting for this training. They will build and implement a digital toolkit accessible to every coach through the web, and support them with onsite training around the globe.
“What struck me so much about this program is it’s reaching kids where they already are, through the people they’re already dealing with,” says Megan Rapinoe, the openly gay Seattle Reign and U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder who’s serving as an ambassador for the program. “It’s educating coaches on LGBTQ issues so they can create a safe space where these kids feel comfortable and they can really thrive.”
The campaign was launched on June 6th to coincide with Pride Month and the 2018 Fifa World Cup. It will run until the World Cup’s conclusion on July 15th. Play Proud will be featured in a series of long and short-form video content broadcast on Fox Sports during its television programming and online coverage of the World Cup.
The content will feature real-life stories of LGBTQ+ youth in America, demonstrating how soccer and soccer coaches have played a positive role in their lives.
One individual profiled in the films is Will Sigler of the Starfinder Foundation. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Will believes that being a part of a team made it easier for him to come out as gay because he already had an immediate community and support system.
“I support Play Proud because it gives people, like me, opportunities to be themselves” says Will. A trailer for the films can be seen below:
To donate to the Play Proud campaign, please visit their website.