PepsiCo Adds 16 New Organizations To The ‘Team Of Champions’ For Soccer In Underserved Communities

PepsiCo, Inc. (NASDAQ:PEP) today announced that it has added 16 new organizations to this year’s “Team of Champions,” a national purpose platform that improves access to soccer in underserved communities, including Black and Hispanic youth, across the U.S. The $1 million commitment over three years makes actionable investments on and off the field, including helping the teams with apparel and equipment costs, field access, mentoring, coaching and education, and fan experiences. In its second year, in addition to expanding its reach to more communities, “Team of Champions” will focus on recruiting more women athletes to the program.

Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, who continues to serve as “Team Captain”, will help raise the visibility of this year’s lineup and the impact these organizations have in local communities across the country. “Last year, PepsiCo and I worked together to establish the ‘Team of Champions’ program and, together, have brought 9,000 athletes and coaches onto the field,” said Chicharito. “In addition to the physical benefits of playing soccer, bringing this beautiful game into these communities teaches youth about teamwork, problem-solving, and accountability. Participation in sports overall enhances resilience and has been proven to boost self-esteem. I’m excited to continue to deliver on our mission to remove barriers to the game in underserved communities.”

New to this year’s “Team of Champions” program is “Access for Champions,” an opportunity for participating players to connect with UEFA ambassadors. Through these inspirational events, participants will have the chance to engage with athletes and leaders, from both PepsiCo and in the soccer industry, to discuss various topics ranging from creating a growth mindset to exploring soccer as an industry. Additionally, for the second consecutive year PepsiCo is partnering with ACCESS U, a non-profit dedicated to mentoring players and their families throughout the college recruiting process, to help guide students who are pursuing athletic scholarships.

The “Team of Champions” is an important initiative part of PepsiCo’s Racial Equality Journey’s community pillar, which in 2020 saw the company announce commitments of more than $570 million over five years to increase representation within its workforce, and uplift Black and Hispanic businesses and communities in the U.S. to address issues of inequality and create opportunity.

“The ‘Team of Champions’ is symbolic of PepsiCo’s commitment to drive long-term change and address systemic barriers in these underserved communities,” said Antonio Escalona, SVP & GM, Hispanic Business Unit, PepsiCo Foods North America. “Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and the commitment made by our brands Lay’s, Pepsi and Gatorade through this program has had a measurable impact on Hispanic-owned and Black-owned soccer clubs, programs and businesses in the United States.”

This year’s “Team of Champions” lineup is comprised of 16 local organizations in cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington, D.C.

“Last year, we leveraged our largest global platform – UEFA Champions League – as a force for good, introducing the ‘Team of Champions’ and breaking down barriers to the game in cities across the country,” said Esperanza Teasdale, VP & GM, Hispanic Business Unit, PepsiCo Beverages North America. “We saw an opportunity to help level the playing field, and this year, we’re focused on expanding our support in more local communities – bolstering efforts to equalize access for underserved youth, including a focus on increasing the recruitment of young women athletes who have fewer opportunities to play sports than young male athletes.”

Building on the success of the 2021 program, PepsiCo has been able to:

· Benefit more than 9,000 athletes and coaches in the first year alone; and increase from 11 teams in 2021 to 16 teams in this second year.
· Provide players with new gear and safety equipment.
· Offer student-athlete mentorship opportunities with highly regarded athletes, team executives and soccer business leaders.
· Unlock access to local facilities and provide resources for field maintenance, including installing lighting.
· Cover competition and referee fees.
· Provide coaches with educational opportunities to refine and optimize their leadership skills.

In the lead up to the 2021-2022 UEFA Champions League final, PepsiCo will amplify stories from the 16 organizations through a content series that will be distributed across broadcast, social and digital platforms to provide more visibility on the impact of each dollar donated.

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About Jerry Milani

Jerry Milani is a freelance writer and public relations executive living in Bloomfield, N.J. He has worked in P.R. for more than 30 years in college and conference sports media relations, two agencies and for the International Fight League, a team-based mixed martial arts league, and now is the PR manager for FAN EXPO, which runs pop culture and celebrity conventions across North America. Milani is also the play-by-play announcer for Caldwell University football and basketball broadcasts. He is a proud graduate of Fordham University and when not attending a Yankees, Rams or Cougars game can be reached at Jerry (at) JerryMilani (dot) com.