“Until we are all free, we are none of us free”

– Emma Lazarus

Identity & Perspectives

Soccer is a sport that spans across countries, and unites players and fans across cultures, and brings people from different backgrounds together. Many different people that hold many different identities show up, put on their boots, and play the beautiful game, just like you. So why do so many players in the United States feel like the sport wasn’t “made” for them, or like they don’t belong in the space?

There are many answers to that question, but chances are many people will say there is a lack of inclusion for marginalized groups. Whether through racism or some other form of prejudice, many people feel like their voice is not as important in the sport, their identities are not reflected at the highest level, or their safety is not prioritized because of the color of their skin. Inclusive coaches aim to make every player feel welcome and like they belong. To create inclusive spaces that are welcoming for youth of all races, we as coaches must first gain a deeper understanding our own identities and how bias and stereotypes affect the way we understand identities different than our own.

In this module, the challenges will focus inward on bringing attention to our own identities, thinking about how they are formed, and discussing how complicated they are. Your team will learn about bias and stereotypes and how these influence our perceptions and interactions with others. Finally, you’ll learn how we can all build inclusive teams and communities using empathy as the major lever to connect with people whose identities are different than our own. By the end of this module, you and your team should have the tools to notice who isn’t represented on your team and in your community, and the skills to make sure they are invited to the table.


Key Coaching Points


Our identities are complex and shaped by what we see – and don’t see – in our everyday lives


We all have biases; we must work to understand how stereotypes influence our perceptions of and interactions with others


To build inclusive teams and communities, we must practice empathy and connect with people who have identities different from our own

Coach Training: Key Resource

In 2015, the New York Times created a series of short films about identity in America. The video displayed here is only one of many and shares some of the challenges of speaking about and against racism. These videos can be unsettling and difficult to listen to but bring together a diverse group of contributors with different perspectives to share about Race in America.

By listening to a number of perspectives coaches can jumpstart their own thought process around how they see others, themselves, how others see them, and how they see the world around them before asking youth to do so. And it further emphasizes the need to connect and talk with perspectives different than our own. You are not alone in the discomfort that may come with social justice conversations but we must continue to challenge ourselves.

  • Where else can you listen to stories from someone’s perspective that might be different from your own?
  • Who in your community can you talk to about racism that experiences it differently than you do?

Team Challenges

Stories from the Field:

Identity & Perspectives

In this challenge, players will draw on real-life examples from the soccer world to engage in meaningful discussion about the way our identity and perspectives influence the way we interact with the world around us



What’s In a Stereotype?

This activity aims to understand how we fill in words and phrases in ways that unconsciously reinforce deeply entrenched societal norms and beliefs.



Walking With Our Identities

In this activity you will ask players to reflect on and discuss, in small groups and with their whole team, different components of their identity



Starting XI

In this challenge, players will reflect on the biggest and most impactful influences they have in their lives by creating their own “Starting XI”



In a Teammate’s Shoes

In this challenge, players will experience the soccer field from a new perspective by taking on a new role or position on the field




In this challenge, players will use individual and group reflections about different game day experiences to understand, discuss, and reflect on code-switching


Stories from the Field

Crystal Dunn’s Journey

What’s Soccer Pro Crystal Dunn’s Next Chapter? Fighting For The Recognition She Deserves

  1. Based on either version of Crystal Dunn’s story, what stands out to you about race and representation on the US Women’s National Team?
  2. What does Dunn’s story tell us about the branding and marketing of Women’s soccer in the US?

DaMarcus Beasley

DaMarcus Beasley: How a Fort Wayne kid broke barriers and reached soccer’s peak

  1. Why did DaMarcus Beasley have such a positive experience at the Chicago Fire?
  2. How does Beasley characterize the differences between his generation of black professional soccer players and today’s generation?

Groundbreaking report reveals racial bias in English football commentary

  1. According to this story, how has race factored into how professional soccer players are characterized by soccer commentators?
  2. Are you surprised by the evidence put forward in this story? What does this story tell us about the power of stereotypes and biases?