Last week we took at look at various American soccer charity efforts especially those in Haiti. The charitable efforts of professional sports leagues and teams are typically overlooked by their fans, yet they are an important component of the community outreach programs in which almost all leagues are involved. In addition to providing a way to give back to the community, local charitable efforts often provide teams with an outstanding opportunity to connect with fans and potential fans. This week we will focus on the charitable efforts of the American Soccer Community. We have interviewed league representatives from MLS and WPS and individual teams to find out how soccer “gives back”. Yesterday, we chatted with MLS Executive Vice President JoAnn Neale who overseas MLS W.O.R.K.S., the charitable arm of MLS.
Today, Robert Penner, the Director of Communications for WPS was kind enough to share a few words about WPS’ charitable efforts. While only in its second year, WPS is already starting to develop its approach to charitable involvement on a league basis. At the same time, many WPS teams already have their own charitable/community activities which will expand in year two. Mr. Penner is a veteran of sports media and marketing and has worked with the A.T.P., U.S. Open and NBC. Most recently, Mr. Penner worked with Puma, a founding partner of the WPS. Thanks to Mr. Penner for answering a few questions about WPS and charity.
Footiebusiness.com: Does WPS have a “go to” charity or community program? Are there certain organizations that have an ongoing relationship with WPS?
Robert Penner: WPS is in the process of developing their philanthropic platform and the causes we want to support through it. It’s something that takes time and something that you want to do properly. We’ve looked at a variety of options during our Inaugural Season and recognize the importance of having a charity component within the league.
RP: This will be a function of the partnerships we implement through our philanthropic arm.
RP: The League does not determine the extent to which, or how teams support charities and non-profit organizations. Nearly every team has a charity or cause they support. Many WPS teams support breast cancer awareness amongst other important community initiatives.
RP: Right now the best way to get involved is through your WPS Team.