Angel City FC Teams up with California Community Foundation to Help Retired NWSL Greats Secure Their Future
In Partnership with the California Community Foundation, ACFC Will Foster Sports-Specific Career Advancement Opportunities for Retired Players with Player 22 Future Program
How does a team retire a player number without ever having a player take to the pitch? As a forward-thinking organization dedicated to honoring those pioneering athletes who paved the way for the sport, Angel City Football Club has done just that.
The number 22 was selected for this powerful ACFC tribute for several reasons. First, the team is set to take the field for its inaugural season in Spring 2022, giving the number significant meaning as a starting point for ACFC. Second, the number acknowledges the 22 players that make up the on-field combined rosters for both teams in every match, symbolizing the importance of teamwork across the board.
But perhaps the most impactful symbolism here is the act of the number retirement itself. Retiring a number traditionally honors a player leaving the game who also made a significant contribution to the team or sport. By retiring No. 22, ACFC shows its respect to all former NWSL players, many of whom have gone largely unrecognized for their talents, achievements, and contributions to the sport.
Every ACFC program is designed to give back and expand community impact in line with the team’s mission. The retirement of No. 22 is no different. ACFC recently announced plans for an exclusive merchandise line, including an official number 22 team jersey, to invite fans to join the celebration. Once launched, 10% of all proceeds will be used to fund the Player 22 Future Program, an effort designed to support retired NWSL players in their career pursuits after the pitch. The California Community Foundation will oversee the program selection process and distribute funds as they become available.
The Player 22 Future Program also has the full support of ACFC kit sponsors DoorDash, Birdies, and Sprouts Farmers Market. All three insignias will remain displayed on the No. 22 jerseys that will be available for purchase. Each sponsor has also continued their commitment to providing support for various programs throughout Los Angeles, as 10% of their sponsorship dollars are invested back in the community.
Professional athletes are often overlooked when it comes to workforce opportunities following their retirement. It is not uncommon for players to prioritize their athletic careers over secondary education while they’re in their prime. Even those with a degree sometimes struggle to secure employment or adjust to new routines following the fast-paced, physical work and travel that comes with playing professional soccer.
Angela Hucles Mangano, ACFC Vice President of Player Development and Operations, said it best: “Upon retirement, a professional athlete competes with a recent college grad for jobs, and we want to do what we can to create opportunities to equip players with the professional development skills they need to succeed in the workforce.” The program is designed to help these individuals decide on and pursue new employment opportunities that will provide a solid financial future for them and their families. Support will also be geared toward equity for female athletes seeking career opportunities in the sports industry. By retiring No. 22, ACFC wants to send a clear and positive message to all former NWSL players to know that they have someone in their corner for their future off-field development.