The Orlando Pride returned to the pitch on Saturday for the NWSL Fall Series and made a strong message about racial equality while doing it.
The Pride wore special warm-up shirts honoring the Black Lives Matter movement with a nod to the “Say Her Name” initiative for the nationally televised match against the North Carolina Courage.
Pride make powerful statement in first match back
Black members of the Pride wore shirts featuring the names of people who have been killed by police or because of their race. They included Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Tamir Rice and Atatiana Jefferson.
The rest of the players will wear the message “Say Their Names.”
Club photographer Mark Thor photographed the team ahead of the match, per Orlando Sentinel reporter Julia Poe. Coach Marc Skinner wore a black shirt featuring the initials of every Black player who has played for the Pride under a drawing of a fist. “Say their names and amplify their voices” is on the back.
The shirts were designed as a collaboration between the club and players. The messaging is “entirely from conversations among the Orlando athletes,” Poe reported.
Sydney Leroux: Change starts with you, with me
The club announced the warm-up shirts in a video on social media on Friday. Different players spoke, but it was World Cup winner Sydney Leroux who spoke the longest.
“Right now, in our country and in the world, we’re going through a really hard time,” Leroux said. “We need change. Change starts with you, change starts with me. I know that we can do this together. I know that Black lives are important, Black lives are powerful and Black lives matter.”
The Pride did not participate in the Challenge Cup this summer after positive COVID-19 tests ahead of the tournament forced them to withdraw. They therefore did not take part in the league’s show of unity during the opening matches.
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