– Emma Lazarus
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.
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
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.