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OL Reign, NWSL announce initiatives for International Women’s Day

Equity in sponsorship opportunities, equity in access to fresh water.

To honor International Women’s Day, the NWSL and the Olympique Lyonnais family of teams both announced initiatives to promote equity and inclusion, in addition to unveiling the opening game and format of the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup.

The Challenge Cup will once again be sponsored by Secret Deodorant and will kick-off with a rematch of last year’s cup final, with the Houston Dash hosting the Chicago Red Stars on April 9 at 5:30 PM PT. As previously rumored, the Challenge Cup will feature an East and a West division, with OL Reign grouped with Kansas City, Houston, Chicago and Portland in the West. Each team will have two home and two away matches, and the winner of each division will face off in a Cup final. The opening game, plus three additional Challenge Cup games to be announced, will air on CBS Sports Network in the United States, and stream on Twitch outside of the U.S. The remaining Challenge Cup games will stream on Paramount+ (formerly CBS All Access) in the U.S. and on Twitch globally. The remainder of the Challenge Cup schedule will be released tomorrow.

As part of the continued Challenge Cup sponsorship, Secret and the NWSL are launching a new NWSL Rookie Class program, which will provide sponsorship opportunities for NWSL rookies competing in the tournament.

“As a women’s brand, we are especially proud to systemically address the lack of representation and sponsorship in women’s sports through our NWSL partnership,” said Sara Saunders, Senior Brand Director, Secret & Gillette. “By supporting the Rookie program this year, we will strengthen the development pipeline for women’s professional soccer.”

Locally, OL Reign and its sister organizations, Olympique Lyonnais and LDLC ASVEL, announced a collective initiative called “Let’s Act Together”. The initiative is designed to raise awareness for three organizations dedicated to pushing for gender equity. OL is supporting Le Mas, a Lyon-based organization that supports women who have experienced violence or are in situations of vulnerability, suffering or exclusion. ASVEL is supporting Filactions, which educates and advocates for an end to cycles of gender-based violence across France.

OL Reign is supporting Water1st International, a Seattle-based organization, which the team has long supported, that invests in water and sanitation projects across Central America, Asia and Africa. In the regions where Water1st works, women bear a disproportionate burden in fetching clean water from distant sources, preventing them from gaining an equal education or access to income-earning opportunities.

“We are so excited that OL Reign will be partnering with Water1st,” said OL Reign original Lu Barnes in a team release. “Water1st’s partnerships with local organizations to build lasting, high-quality water systems while empowering communities to independently own and operate them is a vital step in ending the walk for water.

From now through March 14, anyone making a donation to Water 1st of at least $10 through OL Reign’s affiliate link will get a free Let’s Act Together t-shirt. OL Reign players and staff will also be participating in the annual Carry5 Walk for Water on May 2, 2021. The five kilometer walk is designed to raise funds and awareness of the challenges that disproportionally impact women and girls resulting from water insecurity.

Finally, OL Reign also announced a partnership with Everybody Water, who will become the official supplier of water to the OL Reign first team. A close, women-led partner of Water1st, Everybody Water supplies water in environmentally friendly cartons and donates a portion of its revenue to help fund clean water infrastructure projects around the globe.

“Our club has invested effort to understand the environmental impact we have on our community and world. As we began to tackle an initiative to reduce waste produced by the club, we started to see that the choices we made to be more sustainable were not simply better for the environment, but for people as well,” said OL Reign midfielder Dani Weatherholt. “We are beyond excited to partner with Everybody Water not only because is it a more sustainable water source, but because it is a purpose-driven organization that seeks to provide women all over the world with greater opportunities.

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