Shortly after the murder of George Floyd and subsequent nationwide protests, Forward Madison FC assistant coach Niel Hlavaty noticed organizations throughout the country were putting out statements in support of Black lives. Hlavaty, however, wanted to go a step further and keep the conversation in the limelight.
So, just before the club’s first match of the season on July 25, Hlavaty announced his personal initiative to donate to a local Black-led organization in Madison every time his team scored a goal or won a game.
“I just wanted to go a little further as an individual beyond those statements to keep the conversation and keep the awareness more consistent, rather than just doing all these one-off things,” he said.
Every four games in the abbreviated 16-game season, Hlavaty changes the organization he donates to. Each game, Hlavaty announces the organization on his social media platforms (@hlavatybud4) and includes a link so others can donate as well. So far, he has donated to Urban Triage and the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness.
Though Hlavaty does not know which organization he will donate to next, once he makes his decision, he will announce it the day before the change, he said.
“I usually announce it the day before the change happens to try to get some more traction on it. If all goes well, during our season and we make it to the final game, I’m planning to double down on all the donations. [So] then I’ll be donating to all four organizations.”
The USL League One playoffs this year will consist of a single game between the league’s top two teams, on October 31.
This initiative is not officially affiliated with Forward Madison FC, though the club has offered support.
“I wanted to do [this] completely outside of the organization just to try to involve more people on a personal level,” he said. “My hope is that someone sees this tweet and they say, ‘okay, I can donate this amount’, but go look up where it’s going to go. Look up why they need the money [and] look up how it’s helping them. That’s really the more important thing and then hopefully that spurs on other people to have more conversations.”
Once the season ends, Hlavaty plans to find creative ways to continue donating.
“Do the conversations stop? Is this systemic injustice done in America just because USL League One season is over? Absolutely not,” he said. “It’s something that needs to continue into the offseason. I don’t think it’ll be every week, but I plan to do something once a month to keep the same interaction throughout the rest of the year. It’s something I want to remain consistent through all 2020 and then beyond that.”
Forward Madison plays at Tucson tonight at 9:30.