U.S. Soccer Gives Inaugural Social Impact Award To Black Women’s Player Collective Co-Founder

Imani Dorsey has been named the first recipient of U.S. Soccer’s Social Impact Award.

In October of 2020, after a devastating summer for a country unwilling to reverse centuries of systemic white supremacy, Imani Dorsey and dozens of other Black women playing in the NWSL creating the Black Women’s Player Collective, aimed at advancing opportunities for Black girls in sports and beyond. On Wednesday, the U.S. Soccer Federation honored Dorsey, one of the BWPC’s founding board members, with the inaugural Social Impact Award.

The “One Nation. Social Impact Award” — which, yes, features a period in the middle of the official name — was created to recognize U.S. soccer players who make positive impacts off the field in areas of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. The Black Women’s Player Collective was founded with the goal of elevating the image, value and representation of Black women as athletes and leaders in all industries. 

Dorsey, a 25-year-old defender who made her USWNT debut in November, was one of the founding board members of the BWPC, along with Jasmyne Spencer, Ifeoma Onumonu, Crystal Dunn, Midge Purce, Lynn Williams and Jamia Fields. All 43 Black players in the NWSL at the time of creation were founding members. Among other things, the BWPC has helped construct mini soccer pitches around the country while also providing mentorship to young Black female athletes. 

Dorsey beat out Williams, Christian Pulisic and Para 7-a-side player Shea Hammond for the first Social Impact Award. In other USWNT awards, Lindsey Horan was recently named U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year and Trinity Rodman was awarded U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year

Dorsey was the fifth overall draft pick in the 2018 NWSL draft out of Duke and immediately showed her worth by winning the NWSL Rookie of the Year. The USSF said it will make a donation to the Black Women’s Player Collective in Dorsey’s name, though it did not say how much that donation would be. Hopefully it’s more than the prize for the 2019 NWSL Rookie of the Year

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Given the frequently uncomfortable history of soccer in the U.S., which too often focuses solely on affluent, white children whose parents can afford pay-to-play systems at the expensive of other communities, it’s good to see the USSF recognizing the need to promote Black soccer players — especially Black women — in this country.

The award comes on a day when Black Voters Matter published an op-ed in The Guardian speaking out against the assault on voting rights in the U.S., where 19 states have enacted laws to limit Black and brown votes. Now is the time to amplify Black voices, not silence them.

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