With a light on soccer with the Women’s World Cup, Powerade has made a commitment to help continue the growth of soccer in the U.S. by helping create better access to the sport.
The sports drink company has launched its “Power Has No Gender” campaign as the official sports drink of the U.S. Women’s National Team and partnered with the U.S. Soccer Foundation to build three small soccer fields in honor of current players: Alex Morgan in Los Angeles; Crystal Dunn in New York; and Kelley O’Hara in Atlanta.
The “Power Has No Gender” campaign is the first portion of a greater “Power Has No Limit” campaign to discuss the challenges athletes face in sports because of race, age, gender, ability, access or identity, said Jasmine Lipford, Powerade Senior Brand Manager. Lipford cited a Women’s Sports Foundation statistic that girls have 1.3 million fewer opportunities to play school sports than boys, a gap the company wants to help bridge with the pledge of support to the U.S. Soccer Foundation.
“The FIFA Women’s World Cup is a powerful time in women’s sports. It is the one time every four years that women have a dominant presence on the sports page, captivating the entire globe and sports fans everywhere,” Lipford said. “Because this is such a powerful time in women’s sports, and as the official sports drink of the U.S. Women’s National Team, the FIFA Women’s World Cup presented the opportune time to channel the excitement and vigor that surrounds the tournament to help Powerade shed light on the challenges that young female athletes face.”
The new campaign from Powerade is meant to harness the popularity of the Women’s World Cup and help propel women athletes to an equitable level of their male counterparts, Lipford said.
U.S. Soccer Foundation Executive Director Ed Foster-Simeon believes partnering with Powerade on the three mini-pitches is a show of commitment on the brand’s part to actually make a difference in communities.
“It’s an opportunity to do something together that has a meaningful impact,” Foster-Simeon said. “Boys and girls face many barriers to safe places to play. Access is one of the major challenges we face to growing the game.”
The fields being built will be a small contribution to the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s goal of building 1,000 mini-pitches by 2026 in its “Safe Places to Play” program, but each small step is powerful in helping bring soccer to more communities in the U.S., Foster-Simeon said. The foundation has already built nearly 300 fields and Foster-Simeon said plans are in place to reach 500 in the near future.
Foster-Simeon said the foundation shifted its focus about a decade ago to reach underserved communities where access to programming and fields are limited. Taking note of similar mini-pitches across Europe and Central and South America, the fields can be built in underutilized spaces not large enough for full-sized fields, often in urban environments.
“It transforms a dead space in a community and turns it into a vibrant, live and accessible space for the entire neighborhood,” Foster-Simeon said. “It creates a hub of activity.”
The U.S. Soccer Foundation does take some steps to help program the fields, but time is quickly filled by community-based programs. The foundation claims fields are programmed an average of five hours daily with 350 children using them regularly.
While the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s goal is to create better access for all children, Powerade’s current focus is on women athletes as it launches the greater “Power Has No Limit” campaign.
“Sports are crucial for girls, girls who play sports are more confident about their abilities and competencies, and are 14% more likely to believe they are smart enough for their dream career,” Lipford said, referencing a study by Ruling Our eXperiences Inc. “Giving young female athletes access to the tools they need to practice their game – including access to fields – will help these girls not only achieve their soccer dreams but will also pave the way for the next generation of World Cup hopefuls.”
Powerade is currently only committed to the three fields with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, but there could be more in the future with its goal to push these campaigns for access forward.
“Our goal is to show them these three pitches and the impact they can have,” Foster-Simeon said. “Hopefully they’ll be excited.”