“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

— Arthur Ashe

Activism & Leadership

In this module we will challenge you to stretch the concept of leadership way beyond the field.  We need more leaders- all types of leaders- vocal leaders, servant leaders, those who lead by doing, and changemakers who lead movements. And, as a coach, you’re in a perfect position to support your players on this journey.

Activism is one of the most optimistic things that we can do- activists believe in and can articulate a vision for a better future. But this work also requires courage- we are standing against someone’s status quo. We need to be clear in our vision in order to inspire others to join.

As an anti-racist coach, you can build on the foundations of empathy, vulnerability, and authenticity that is built through inclusive coaching, and create a shared vision with your team. Actions in your community are the change you want to see in the world.

Key Coaching Points


Anyone can be a leader; to lead effectively, we each should develop a style that stays true to who we are


We must find courage to speak up and speak out in order to influence others


Activism requires communicating a vision for a better future and inspiring others to join

Coach Training: Key Resource

In her Social Change Ecosystem Framework, Deepa Iyer outlines ten roles that people play in pursuit of social justice and equity. From frontline responders, to builders, to visionaries, and more, she supports reader to reflect on their own role in the ecosystem.

Through a series of guiding questions coaches will reflect on their experiences in different roles and how those came to be. Some examples are:

  • What role(s) do I feel comfortable and natural playing, and why? What role(s) make me come alive, and why?
  • Who is my support system — the people who hold me accountable in a compassionate way?
  • What role(s) am I often asked to step into by others? How do I feel about assuming those roles?
  • How can I stretch myself? Where can I take bolder risks, especially if I hold different forms of privilege?
The Social Change Ecosystem
Social Change Ecosystem

Team Challenges

Stories from the Field:

Activism & Leadership

In this challenge, players will draw on real-life examples from the soccer world to engage in meaningful discussion about the way activism and leadership can create change in our communities



The Shape of a Leader

This challenge gives players and coaches an opportunity to assess what style of leader they are as well as provide language around what values drive their behavior



Courageous Conversations

In this challenge, teams will create, test, and improve trusting environments for players to feel safe enough to share and articulate situations that affect them as people



Say What You See

In an exercise of perspective sharing and observation, players will have the chance to commentate a soccer game with a partner in front of their peers



Captain’s Scrimmage

In this challenge, players will be asked to “coach” their teammates through a small-sided scrimmage



Community Circle Nights

In this challenge, players step off the field with their teammates to address an issue that is important to them through collective action


Stories from the Field

Raising their Fists

Tommie Smith on 1968 Olympic Protest with John Carlos

  1. Are an athlete’s personal identities ever separate from their identity as an athlete?
  2. How might personal experiences and identities affect an athlete’s performance?

Don’t Meet Hate With Hate

Adam Traoré: The First Time You Hear Racist Abuse, You Can’t Believe It

  1. Issues as large scale as racism can often feel impossible to tackle as a community much less as an individual. However, Traoré suggests that individual action is where progress begins. How can individuals taking a stand help?
  2. How can we encourage people to listen when it comes to controversial issues? Is there a way to speak about them? Certain contexts that are helpful?

Constantly in the Fight

WNBA: The Most Socially Progressive Pro League

  1. One of the more challenging aspects of activism, it does not always come with approval and celebration. Why then do athletes such as the players in the WNBA continue to work at it?
  2. How do they maintain their momentum?