Austin da Luz, and other US players, Playing for Pride in 201726 April 2017

NorthCarolinaFCmidfielder AustindaLuzhas recentlylaunchedthePlayingforPridecampaign,whichwillhelpraiseawarenessforequalrightsfortheLGBTQcommunityanddonatefundstotheHumanRightsCampaign.

“It’s been a difficult year in North Carolina, with all the controversy surrounding HB-2 and, couple that with the volatile political atmosphere, I got caught up in all that negativity,” said Austin da Luz.

“I wanted to do something positive. I wanted to do two things. I wanted to show my support for the LGBTQ community here in North Carolina and, as a state, we aren’t what we have been portrayed to be in the media.

“The good outweighs the bad here and I wanted to further that message as a proud Carolinian.”

The idea to start the campaign was born during the preseason, but it only kick-ed off during North Carolina FC. Since then, over 20 players in every professional league in the United States, as well as da Luz’s former teammate, Jamie Dell, who plays in the Swedish second division, have joined in.

“The reaction from players has been pretty awesome,” added Austin. “What’s cooler is that I haven’t gone to anyone personally and asked them to participate. I just kind of put it out there and said I’d like to get more players involved.”

The reaction from the community and the fans has been equally welcoming. After games, when da Luz greets the fans, they’ll “shout out that they are joining me with Playing for Pride.”

“People like having this interaction with the players and feeling like their values line up with players they are seeing on the weekends.”

The players that have joined the Playing for Pride team will donate 2 USD for games played, 3 USD for a start, 4 USD for an assist, and 5 USD for a goal. Fans are encouraged to match a player, but have the option to just donate what they want, when they want.

“I just kind of asked fans in joining me to match those donations,” said da Luz. “People are free to come up with their own thing and donate on their own schedule, that’s totally fine too. I just wanted to get as many people involved and everyone united around this cause.”