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We Belong

Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association Launches "I Belong" Initiative To Promote Inclusivity Within the Sport



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Aimed at combating discrimination and fostering inclusion among soccer players, the governing body of youth soccer in Eastern Pennsylvania partnered with the Anderson Monarch’s club to produce a video entitled, "I Belong," kicking off a series of steps being taken by the Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer organization to improve inclusion among players.

The “I Belong” initiative comes in response to recent reports of children not always feeling welcomed when they play teams in our region. Experiences of name-calling and bullying have taken place among children of color or other differences and both leaders within the Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association and parents are making efforts to reinforce that all players should feel welcomed when they hit the field.

Amos Huron, Executive Director for the Anderson Monarchs, emphasizes the significance of this initiative, stating, "Step one was just acknowledging the reality of discrimination in soccer. It's vital for our families to feel heard and supported. We're amplifying the message that racism exists, and we're committed to addressing it head-on."

We at Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association believe that every child deserves to feel safe, supported, and valued regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender identity, or background,” said Julian Dorsey, the association’s Grassroots Programs Manager. "We're actively engaging with our community to listen and learn. Our goal is to create tangible changes, such as implementing pledges before games to promote inclusivity and respect for all players, regardless of race or background."

The "I Belong" initiative marks just the beginning of the association’s efforts to promote diversity and acceptance within the region’s youth soccer clubs. Dorsey emphasizes the initiative's inclusivity, stating, "This isn't just about black and brown kids; it's about all kids. We want every child to feel safe and welcomed, whether they're transgender, of color, or from any background."

The association is also taking internal steps to ensure equity, with plans to establish an Equity Change Team that includes representatives from their membership. This team will focus on addressing internal issues and supporting organizations seeking to create positive change. They will also continue to work with the state and governing bodies in taking steps to ensure zero tolerance for any actions that do not create a welcoming atmosphere among their clubs.

Ultimately, the "I Belong" initiative aims to create a soccer community where every child can thrive and enjoy the game without fear of discrimination or exclusion. 

As Dorsey aptly puts it, "At its core, soccer is about recreation and fun. We want to instill a love for the game in all children, creating a future generation of players who champion inclusivity and equality.”