After women’s football teams in Europe started swapping out white shorts for darker ones due to period concerns raised by players, an American club is following suit.
The Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League announced this week that they’ll swap out the white shorts that go with their 2022-2023 away kits for black ones to “make players more comfortable and confident when playing during their menstrual cycle.” This makes them the first NWSL club to make the change.
The shorts are solid black, with a white insert in the slits on either side. The numbers on the left leg of the shorts are white, and a monochrome white version of the Pride crest appears on the right leg.
“We must remove the stigma involved in discussing the health issues impacting women and menstruating non-binary and trans athletes if we want to maximize performance and increase accessibility to sport. I am proud to be part of a Club that is making a small but extremely impactful change when it comes to both our professional and youth players,” said Pride vice-president of soccer operations and general manager Haley Carter on the club’s website.
“The experience that players have and the safety and comfort they feel when wearing an Orlando Pride crest is a critical area of focus for us. We will continue to not only listen to player feedback but keep taking steps to make Orlando a world-class destination for athletes.”
“The reasons behind not wanting to wear white shorts are clear, but it is unfortunately something that hasn’t been addressed until recently,” added Pride midfielder Erika Tymrak. “I think it’s a big step for us as a Club to make players feel comfortable and allow us to focus solely on competing.”
English club Manchester City made a similar move in November 2022, swapping white shorts for maroon ones with their home kits a season ahead of schedule. Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion’s women’s teams have also made the switch, while Manchester United, Arsenal and the England national team — which all traditionally wear white shorts at home — are also considering changes.
In the Pride’s announcement, they cite research from the Women’s Sports Foundation that found, by the age of 14, “girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys, with puberty a contributing factor.” To that end, all girls teams within the Pride’s youth academy will wear dark shorts for both training and games.
“This is a commendable move by the Orlando Pride and one that will surely improve the level of comfort amongst its players,” said Team Choice OBGYN Dr. Christine Greves of Orlando Health Medical Group. “As a society, we need to continue to work to normalize talking about the health and well-being pertaining to the female body and the period is a huge part of that. The more we do that, the more we’ll be setting up our athletes for success both on and off the field.”
The names and numbers on the back of Orlando’s white away kits — which are inspired by the long history of the United States space program in Florida and NASA’s Artemis Lunar Exploration Program, which aims to land the first woman of color on the moon by 2025 — will also change to from silver to black this season.