2022.02.14 Preseason Training-22

In the summer of 2020, a group of Major League Soccer players came together to say “enough is enough.”  

And so began the story of Black Players for Change

Nashville SC forward CJ Sapong helped catalyze the organization.  

“At the moment, it was very necessary with the pandemic and the social injustice issues,” Sapong said. “It was a pivotal time for players like me and also just society as a whole to understand that we were at a place where we were feeling fed up and ultimately felt like voices needed to be heard.” 

BPC is an independent organization consisting of over 170+ players, coaches and staff of MLS, working to bridge the racial equality gap that exists in society. They’re committed to tackling the racial injustices that have limited Black people from having an equitable stake in the game of soccer and society.  

That work starts in underserved communities. Sapong, who has played in MLS since 2011, says he’s proud of how BPC has created more opportunities for kids to play soccer that otherwise would have never had the chance to experience the game.  

“It’s catalyzed our community, as well as allies, to put underserved people and people that deal with social injustices in a position where they can maximize their potential,” Sapong said. “One of those initiatives is through the mini pitches and making a space that’s safer to play and implementing different types of programming for underserved youth there. It’s really providing opportunities that a lot of players that are in the league now never had. The goal is to have a kind of generational pathway for these players to be able to enjoy the game of soccer and feel safe while they are doing it.” 

Sapong currently serves in an advisory role on BPC’s executive board. He says a new, younger group of players has taken on a larger role in the organization, which will bring BPC into a “new age.” 

As Black History Month comes to an end, Sapong says education is one of the most important ways soccer, and society, can grow and move forward.  

“I think in society, if you look at it generationally, we all have family members that were affected by social injustices, segregation, maybe even slavery,” Sapong said. “How are we actually going to move forward if we have members of our family that were part of these things and aren’t really expressing their thoughts, their feelings, their emotions at that time? If we don’t dig deep and find what the triggers were, we are ultimately going to make the same mistakes again. 

“[Black History Month] is a great opportunity for us to celebrate Black Culture, and I just want to implore people to dive deep and be open minded and not be afraid to ask questions. Because this is very important. Ultimately, for the human race to really maximize our potential, we have to be harmonious.”