MEET THE SOMOS UNIDOS FOUNDATION OF NEW MEXICO UNITED
New Mexico United was founded on the premise of supporting every single New Mexican who loves the beautiful game. The Somos Unidos Foundation diversity program launched in June 2020 to further that exact mission. The aim of the diversity fellowship is to create supportive pathways for women and people of color to thrive in the soccer industry. Through this foundation, New Mexico United distinguishes itself as a force of positivity and progress for the state of New Mexico and soccer culture.
Currently, between the 73 teams in the top three U.S men’s soccer leagues, (MLS, USL and USL League One), only 17 coaches and 6 presidents are people of color. There are 0 women head coaches in any of these leagues. In the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), only 22% of head coaches and team presidents are women, and of their 9 teams, only 1 coach and 1 president are people of color.
HOW IS THE SOMOS UNIDOS FOUNDATION CHANGING THIS?
The foundation plans to address two driving factors of this disparity: access and financial barriers. Through the 6 months intensive program, candidates work directly with either the coaching staff or front office staff to learn about the industry of a professional soccer team. After the fellowship is complete each candidate receives scholarships to continue their education or subsidize their US Soccer coaching licenses which can be unattainably expensive.
“This program is about creating real change in our community. Having a conversation and listening are starting points, but tangible action must immediately follow. The number of women & people of color involved in leadership roles in our sport is staggeringly low and this initiative is a starting point to generate more opportunities,” said Head Coach Troy Lesesne. “Our hope is that every professional club provides a similar program for their community.”
Learn more about the foundation and apply to the diversity fellowship here.
WIS AND SOMOS UNIDOS
Women in Soccer and New Mexico United share the same determination to use the power of community to increase diversity in the game. As WIS founder Courtney Levinsohn expressed, “New Mexico United and their Somos Unidos Foundation are doing game-changing things in the USL, increasing diversity in coaching and beyond, and we are honored to have their support.” Connecting WIS members to more opportunities through our trailblazing partners is a key aim of the network. Keep your eyes peeled to see fellow WIS partner Goal Click’s featured piece on what being a Somos Unidos fellow is really like.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE AND TAKE ACTION!
At the WIS Career fair, you heard Chanel Wiese, the foundation’s executive director, explain how to create a diversity fellowship and we want you to take that advice and lay it down in your own clubs! “We have the power to make the soccer world one that represents – and is accessible to – everyone,” Chanel said. “That starts with advocating for women of all races, religions, identities, and statuses. We are honored to be part of that fight within our community.” For extra motivation re-watch Chanel’s workshop on diversity fellowships here in part 1 of the career fair. Our squad is built on action so lead by New Mexico’s example and push for positive change in your own soccer community.