CHICAGO – The National Women’s Soccer League, together with Verizon, today announced the creation of the Verizon Community Shield, a competition set to take place during the 2020 NWSL Fall Series. Each of the NWSL’s nine clubs will partner with small businesses or programs in their community, and the team with the most points at the end of the Fall Series will be awarded the Verizon Community Shield and the opportunity to present a grant of $25,000 to their community partner, made possible by Verizon. $15,000 and $10,000 will be presented to the second and third-place teams, respectively.
In 2020, the NWSL received a Small Business Administration loan, which helped continue to pay and support its world-class players as the season was put on hold. The loan bought the league the time it needed to create an innovative tournament, complete with new sponsors and record-breaking TV ratings, and allowed the NWSL to continue to take a positive step forward. The Verizon Community Shield provides the league with an opportunity to support other small businesses and programs during the Fall Series.
“The Verizon Community Shield is an opportunity for our league to showcase small businesses and organizations in the communities that our clubs live, play and work,” said NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird. “As we fight this pandemic and confront the sad reality of systemic racism in our country, we want to use the Fall Series to play for a purpose. The Verizon Community Shield provides our players and clubs that opportunity and I want to thank Verizon for stepping up and helping us make this happen.”
Teams will identify a small business or organization in their markets to feature and play for throughout the 2020 NWSL Fall Series. With the help of short vignettes, each club will introduce and tell the story of a business they value and support. These vignettes and stories will be highlighted by the league and teams on social and more throughout the competition. The winner of the Fall Series will receive the Verizon Community Shield and a generous grant to present to their chosen program thanks to the incredible support of Verizon, who showed their commitment to NWSL through a multi-year deal with the league and also supported NWSL’s 2020 Challenge Cup competition at the beginning of the pandemic. Together as group, we will #KickItLocal to support our growing NWSL community.
“Small businesses and local organizations are the soul of communities, as are sports teams, and both are struggling as we continue to battle COVID-19,” said Marissa Weseloh, Director of Sponsorships at Verizon. “Verizon has been providing support to small businesses since the start of the pandemic and we’re proud to expand that support and our partnership with the NWSL with the Verizon Community Shield.”
During the Fall Series there will be a televised NWSL Game of the Week on the CBS Television Network every Saturday in September and on Saturday, October 17, and on CBS Sports Network two Saturday’s in October. CBS All Access will exclusively stream four games in the U.S. and Canada as well as the CBS broadcast coverage. Twitch will stream every game internationally and seven additional games in the U.S. and Canada.
The NWSL fall series will include 18 matches over the course of seven weeks, featuring three, three-team pods that will all play one another and enable the league to minimize travel.
The NWSL’s return-to-play protocols reflect the best practices previously developed by the NWSL Medical Task Force and successfully implemented during the Challenge Cup. Those protocols have been updated to reflect the reality of home-market matches and regional travel and will influence all league and club actions outside the field of play.