Play Proud: Creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth through the game of soccer

Play Proud: Creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth through the game of soccer

Play Proud is a program that will make soccer a safe space for all by educating and empowering coaches across the United States. The program will be powered by streetfootballworld.

The campaign will show people what life is like for young people in the LGBTQ+ community through a 3-part mini documentary series that will air on FOX Sports during the World Cup.

The content will feature real-life stories of LGBTQ+ youth in America, demonstrating how the game of soccer and soccer coaches have played a positive role in their lives.

United States Women’s National Team star and reigning FIFA World Cup Champion Megan Rapinoe is leading the charge for Play Proud with a crowdrise campaign, which is now LIVE and can be found here:

Homophobia and discrimination still pose a major obstacle for LGBTQ+ youth to access soccer programs around the world. Soccer coaches often lack the skills, perspective, and knowledge necessary to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ players.

42% of youth who identify as LGBTQ+ believe their community does not accept them, while 73% believe youth sports is not a safe or welcoming environment.

LGBTQ+ youth are twice as likely as their peers to be physically assaulted in school. 83% of gay men and 63% of lesbian women are “in the closet” while playing youth sports. LGBTQ+ youth are also half as likely as their straight peers to participate in organized sports, presumably for many of the same reasons cited within these studies.

The Play Proud campaign will equip soccer-based youth development organizations with the knowledge, skills and tools to create safe and supportive environments for LGBTQ+ youth with the world’s first dedicated training toolkit.

By bringing together global experts from sports-based youth development organizations, LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and high-profile athletes, Play Proud will provide practical, relevant and inspirational resources that can be distributed for free to any organization using sport to engage youth.

In Phase I, Play Proud will reach 3,600 coaches and 62,000 youth directly, with the potential to reach 35,000 coaches and 2.5 million youth worldwide.

The more money that Play Proud can raise, the more coaches and kids they can help. The campaign goal for Phase I is to reach $100,000.

Once built, Play Proud will have a dedicated website and the entire toolkit will be available online for anyone to access freely.


streetfootballworld is the international leader in soccer for good. Over the past two decades, the organization has assembled a global network of more than 125 soccer-based organizations that use soccer as a tool to tackle social issues affecting young people.

We believe coaches and players must learn the tools to lift up every player. We know LGBTQ+ players need excellent champions. Even with the best intentions, leaders always have room to grow to ensure every player feels welcome on the team. The Play Proud program is designed to help in this effort. This special curriculum for coaches allows them to uplift LGBTQ+ kids who might be in a tough place, and helps coaches identify and utilize a young person’s strengths on and off the field.