TAMPA, Fla. – In honor of the diverse Hispanic and Latine community and soccer fanbase in the U.S. and around the world, the United Soccer League (USL) will celebrate Hispanic-Latine Heritage Month with a series of activations running today through Oct. 15.
“The Latine community has played a vital role in shaping the very social, intellectual, and political fabric of life in the United States, and by extension, institutions such as sport,” said USL Vice President of DEI and Community Impact Chris Busey. “From the boardroom to the playing field, the success of our member clubs and USL is dependent on working alongside a multi-racial, multi-national, and multilingual Latine community. Like other awareness months, Hispanic-Latine month offers us an opportunity to celebrate, create safe spaces for joy, and reflect on the journeys, while also being accountable to the work we still must do as a league to truly diversify our game across all levels.”
To kick off Hispanic-Latine Heritage Month, the USL commissioned a specialty scarf designed by award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh to celebrate the indigenous roots of Latine people. The design was inspired by a mural housed at the Anthropology Museum in Mexico City by Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo called Dualidad (Duality). San Antonio FC, North Carolina FC and Indy Eleven will be selling the special scarf starting Sept. 15.
“The image I created shows a soccer player kicking a ball and a goalie trying to stop it. But instead of a soccer ball there is a sun between them,” said Tonatiuh. “There is a jaguar on one side of the scarf, representing the night, and a feathered serpent on the other, representing the day. The daily cosmic battle that people from Mesoamerican civilizations believed in seemed to me to parallel the battle between soccer teams and how they play against each other every season.”
On Saturday, Sept. 16, San Antonio FC, in partnership with the USL and the Tomás Rivera Children’s Book Award, will host a book drive at Toyota Field during their Hispanic-Latine Heritage Match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. SAFC and the Tomás Rivera Book Award plans to donate over 300 books to promote Latine literacy practices, and the club will encourage fans to bring books to donate on gameday. In stadium, San Antonio will recognize five Mexican-American and Chicane authors and illustrators on-field pre-game during the club’s Community Spotlight segment. To close out the Hispanic-Latine Heritage Month celebrations, San Antonio will host Duncan Tonatiuh and a book giveaway of his books for their Fan Appreciation Night match on Saturday, Oct. 14 against Indy Eleven.
“The Tomás Rivera Children's Book Award works directly with teachers and students to promote literacy for children and youth utilizing culturally and linguistically affirming literature,” said Nancy Valdez-Gainer, Director of the Tomás Rivera Children’s Book Award. “We want to thank USL and San Antonio FC for acknowledging the importance of literacy in our communities.”
Throughout Hispanic-Latine Heritage Month, the USL will share content highlighting Hispanic and Latine voices and stories from across the USL ecosystem. These include Charleston Battery forward and Mexican youth international Fidel Barajas, David Estrada, the 2022 USL Kwik Goal Coaching Diversity Scholarship recipient, and the Latina coaches and players at USL W League club Stockton Cargo SC navigating the USL pathway.
Lastly the USL hosted a virtual webinar on Sept. 11 for all USL clubs and USL HQ staff with guest speaker Dr. Nick Vargas, an associate professor of Latinx and Chicanx Studies in the Ethnic Studies Department at University of California – Berkley. Dr. Vargas presented foundational concepts, research and statistics to facilitate knowledge development pertaining to Hispanic and Latine populations in the U.S. The webinar is the first of an ongoing commitment by USL HQ cultivate integrated organizational learning can foster inclusive intelligence, grow collective cultural competencies, and spark curiosity.
Several USL clubs will host their own Hispanic-Latine Heritage Nights throughout the month of September. Dates and participating clubs include, but are not limited to:
New Mexico United: Sept. 15
Orange County SC: Sept. 15
Louisville City FC: Sept. 16
Monterey Bay F.C.: Sept. 16
Phoenix Rising FC: Sept. 16
Sacramento Republic FC: Sept. 16
San Antonio FC: Sept. 16
Charleston Battery: Sept. 23
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC: Sept. 23
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC: Sept. 23
Richmond Kickers: Sept. 23
North Carolina FC: Sept. 29
San Diego Loya SCl: Sept. 30
Tampa Bay Rowdies: Sept. 30
Clubs who have already hosted Hispanic-Latine Heritage Nights this season include:
Orange County SC: May 6
Greenville Triumph SC: June 3
Union Omaha: Aug. 19
Indy Eleven: Sept. 2
El Paso Locomotive FC: Sept. 2
Hartford Athletic: Sept. 7
FC Tulsa: Sept. 9