Luke DeCock

Second season of Playing for Pride exceeds expectations

For NCFC player, activism has become part of his game

North Carolina FC midfielder Austin da Luz felt he needed to respond in some way to HB2 and the way it portrayed his home state. His "Playing for Pride" fundraising campaign to support LGBTQ rights, has taken off beyond what he ever imagined.
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North Carolina FC midfielder Austin da Luz felt he needed to respond in some way to HB2 and the way it portrayed his home state. His "Playing for Pride" fundraising campaign to support LGBTQ rights, has taken off beyond what he ever imagined.

Austin da Luz had high expectations for his Playing for Pride fundraising campaign. Once a few U.S. National Team players got involved, men and women both, he realized he had set them too low.

Playing for Pride, the brainchild of the North Carolina FC midfielder, asked professional soccer players and fans to pledge a donation for every goal, assist, win, save or appearance in June, which was LGBTQ pride month. The campaign ended up raising more than $23,000 – and still counting – for Athlete Ally, which advocates for LGBTQ athletes.

“It’s higher than I thought, for sure,” da Luz said. “I thought we could do something pretty cool but this exceeded my expectations.”

Last summer, when da Luz first launched Playing for Pride, it raised $13,000 stretched out over the whole season.

By the end, 125 players signed up, extending far beyond his NCFC and NC Courage teammates and to both national teams and players across the country and around the world. Da Luz said Athlete Ally was thrilled with the response and he wouldn’t be surprised if the concept was extended to other sports.

“It’s not really about me or anything I do,” da Luz said. “It’s about supporting that community going forward.”

Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock

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