COLUMBUS – As part of the Club’s year-round efforts to advance participation in and a love of the beautiful game, the Columbus Crew are hosting their “Soccer For All” themed match, presented by Zenni Optical, at Lower.com Field on Saturday against Nashville SC [7:30 p.m. ET / MLS Season Pass on Apple TV / 97.1 The Fan (English); La Mega 103.1 FM (Spanish)]. The team will incorporate elements during the entire matchday experience recognizing inclusivity, Pride Month, Juneteenth and opportunities for individuals of all abilities to enjoy the world’s game.
The Black & Gold are celebrating Soccer For All Month throughout June, highlighted by Saturday’s home match and last week’s 614 Day community events. Through MLS WORKS’ Soccer For All, the Crew and teams across the league emphasize that soccer can unify local communities and people across the globe through their passion for the sport, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or ability.
“Soccer For All is such a powerful platform for the Crew and Columbus because the mission and message are clear – everyone can and should have opportunities to enjoy and benefit from our game as players and supporters,” said President of Business Operations Kristin Bernert. “While we are dedicated to the growth of soccer in Central Ohio throughout the year, especially for our youth, Saturday’s match and our 614 Day celebrations are key moments that bring our local community together through a shared passion and experiences, all focused on a love for the Crew, the sport and our city.”
“Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and events like Soccer For All and the World Cup show how our game unites people,” said President and General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “The players on our roster are proud to be members of the Crew and Columbus, and they also represent more than 10 countries, six continents and many more communities with unique, diverse cultures. Our Club and supporters all have the same goal of bringing championships to and celebrating our city, as well as a joy for soccer, and it creates special connections only possible through the sport.”
Before the game, Crew players will wear tops displaying “LOVE UNITES,” along with other MLS teams in June. Club personnel – led by Captain and Midfielder Darlington Nagbe, Midfielder Aidan Morris and Goalkeeper Patrick Schulte – engaged with local community leaders during a photo shoot in Downtown Columbus.
Pre-match festivities on the Chase Plaza will feature Adaptive Sports Connection, Kaleidoscope Youth Center and VOYCENOW. A West African Drum Troupe will also excite supporters as they enter the American Electric Power Gate on the southeast corner of the stadium.
Prior to kickoff, youth from Girls on the Run Dowd Education Center and Ohio Hispanic Coalition will lead the procession onto the pitch. Columbus artist T.Wong will perform Lift Every Voice and Sing and the National Anthem, accompanied by American Sign Language presenter Jody Daulton.
During the match, the Crew will share with fans their support of Columbus City Schools, including through clap-ins and clap outs recognizing attendance and classroom engagement through the “Stay in the Game!” Network partnership; Adaptive Sports Connection; Ohio Blind Soccer; Girls on the Run; the Ohio Hispanic Coalition; and VOYCENOW.
Athletes with Adaptive Sports Connection will be recognized at halftime to further display how soccer is accessible to individuals of all abilities while raising awareness for their organization.
To honor Juneteenth, Major League Soccer last week introduced “The Seeds We Plant. The Flowers We Share,” collectible jerseys and commemorative patches – inspired by the art of Black artist Gianni Lee – that will be auctioned to support organizations impacting the Black community in each club’s local market. The Black & Gold are collaborating with VOYCENOW, founded by Crew Alumni Zack Steffen (2016-2019) and Alex Crognale (2017-2019). A nonprofit dedicated to speaking up, creating equal opportunities, supporting youth sports and after-school programs and ultimately bringing communities together, VOYCENOW is a global community of professional athletes and fans fighting for equality and justice with a focus on Black youth from disadvantaged communities.
The first 7,500 fans entering Lower.com Field will receive Soccer For All rally towels, courtesy of Zenni Optical.
The Crew are dedicated to supporting the Columbus community through their education and youth soccer initiatives. The month-long Soccer For All programming further highlights how the Club brings people together through soccer, the world’s sport that transcends all borders and demographics.
The Black & Gold celebrated Columbus on 614 Day (Wednesday, June 14) by hosting multiple events for youth and community groups at mini-pitches across the city, presented by Wendy’s. Crew leadership, First Team players and Crew 2 members contributed to the festive atmospheres at each location while interacting with the next generation of footballers to help inspire a passion for the game, along with other activations.
Local community leaders joining 614 Day activities included Columbus City Schools; Columbus Rec and Parks; Adaptive Sports Connection; Ohio Blind Soccer; Ronald McDonald House Charities Central Ohio; Kaleidoscope Youth Center; Big Brothers Big Sisters Hispanic Mentorship; Girls on the Run; Mid-Ohio Food Collective; Whitehall YMCA and more.
The Crew have installed five mini-pitches in Greater Columbus during the past four years. The mini-pitches are part of the Club’s commitment to grow the game and strengthen youth engagement and the local communities overall.
In addition to installing mini-pitches, the Crew implement Soccer for Success programming at Columbus elementary schools. Soccer for Success is the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s signature soccer program designed for children ages 6-14 and intended to help children establish physical, social and emotional health skills.
Crew players and staff live, work and play in Columbus and fully embrace the city as their home. The Club appreciates that Black & Gold supporters come from all walks of life and represent the diverse, evolving region that continues to experience remarkable growth. The Crew are honored to work with many local community organizations every year, many of which are from underrepresented groups.
For more information, visit ColumbusCrew.com/community.
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