Mar 2, 2021

2021 Girls League Focused on Mental Health

Players check in before kick off
Players check in before kick off

We launched our girls league on January 31st and the competition is already heating up. And while nothing brings more joy to them than having a soccer ball at their feet, there is even more excitement about the theme for this season: mental health. After the stress and strain of 2020, our girls are thrilled to be able to focus on mental health during soccer sessions and games. We are taking a close look at how positive relationships, service to others, and physical activity play an important role in our mental health.

While leagues are playing in 2 neighborhoods in Kumba, we hosted our first workshops last Friday and launched our 30-day Active Lifestyle Challenge. All the girls began a journey to do 10-minutes of physical activity each day. Our staff Nenne and Caroline shared exercise booklets and they worked through a variety of options so they can mix things up.

All participants will reconnect at the end of this month, before the finals, to check in on and hold one another accountable and see who finished the challenge. Many of the girls were excited about this initiative because they complain they want to play more soccer, even though they are limited in their free time. This initiative allows them to keep up with their love of the game in their everyday lives at home.

Speaking of love of the game, last month we asked our community share why they love the game. We had an overwhelming response from youth in Cameroon, CEOs, executive directors, advocates for social impact and a professional soccer player, too! Check out what they said!

P.S.  We're inspired to continue this work because of our girls and people like you who invest in us. Let’s keep building!

Reading motivational statement before games
Reading motivational statement before games
Action in the field
Action in the field

Links:

Nov 2, 2020

Super Cup brings together youth together from 3 cities to promote peace

Raising the championship cup
Raising the championship cup

After months of postponing, the weekend was finally here! Champion teams in the U-15 Division from Mamfe and Bamenda, two areas in Anglophone Cameroon that require hours of strenuous travel on bumpy roads to reach Kumba, finally arrived late on that Thursday afternoon in time to have dinner and check into their hotels. They would get to bed early ahead of a full day on Friday. 

The conference took place in the City Council Hall and included topics such as Sport for Peace and Social Cohesion - something Cameroon needs now more than ever before - alongside Gender Equity. How can we talk about progress and development when girls and women are considered as 'second classes' across much of African society? More than 80 youth attended activities in and around the conference hall that day, the culmination of a year-long effort sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme in Cameroon. Coach mentors and youth leaders gave presentations on the topics and the Country Director, Peter Ngwane inspired youth my reflecting on the organizations 10-year anniversary milestone we are celebrating this year. 

Day 2 featured serious soccer competitions at the GPS Kumba Town field in the center of the city. Boys in U-12 and U-15 competed as well as our Girls division in Kumba. The message was clear: soccer is more than a game. It's a tool for peace and unity. 

By Sunday, it was time to say farewell to the coaches and players from afar, as everyone returned home and our afternoon programs resumed in all 12 neighborhoods for more than 700 youth.

These activities occured in September. Six weeks later, the entire nation, continent, and parts of the world, would be shocked by the atrocities that happened in a school in Kumba the morning of October 24th, when gunmen entered the complex and killed seven and severely injured at least 13 other children. Two of the youth had played soccer in previous years with our of our partner clubs, Legend Academy, so our heart breaks even more as the connection is so close to home. 

We use this opportunity to condemn violence of any kind and acknowledge the love and commitment of our team in Cameroon and their dedication to our mission: to improve the lives and futures of youth through sport (soccer). We invite you to stand with them and send thoughts and prayers to all the families who are mourning now. 

Youth attending the conference to connect & learn
Youth attending the conference to connect & learn
Our partner in Mamfe brings youth together
Our partner in Mamfe brings youth together

Links:

Oct 30, 2020

End of Year Events Promote Gender Equality

Somali Bantu girls stand before a session
Somali Bantu girls stand before a session

Despite all the chaos going on in the world, we are celebrating. First, Open Field is 10 years old!! We began our programs in 2010 and are using the last three months of this year to look back and celebrate the power of sport to improve the lives of thousands of lives of girls and boys in Cameroon and Pittsburgh. 

Our girls programs in Pittsburgh have been thriving! In both neighborhood, refugee girls are playing and learning and having serious conversations about respect, kindness, diversity, and sisterhood. They get equal access to coach mentors, field space, and playing time. We make sure to prioritize their participation to ensure they feel just as special as the boys, who are always encouraged and allowed to play outside the house. 

Over the past 8 weeks, we've ran programs and at the end of October, we celebrated our achievements by hosting friendly games for the girls in both communities, Northview Heights and Crafton Heights. The 3 nights of activities included pizza parties, fun games, science projects facilitated by our partners Carnegie Mellon University, and an official game where the Mayor of Pittsburgh inspired us with his encouragement of our girls. 

In Cameroon, girls played in the finals of our Super Cup and the Kumba Town team hoisted the cup. This was the culmination of a year-long effort supported by United Nations Development Programme in Cameroon to promote peace and social cohesion alongside gender equity. 

Thanks for supporting us to get to this point! We're honored to be able to celebrate a decade of social impact and cheers to 10 more years!

Congolese girls enjoy their pizza after soccer
Congolese girls enjoy their pizza after soccer
Kumba Town girls raise the cup!
Kumba Town girls raise the cup!

Links:

 
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