Empower Girls Through Soccer

by Open Field
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Empower Girls Through Soccer
Empower Girls Through Soccer
Empower Girls Through Soccer
Empower Girls Through Soccer
Empower Girls Through Soccer
Empower Girls Through Soccer
Empower Girls Through Soccer
Empower Girls Through Soccer
Empower Girls Through Soccer
Empower Girls Through Soccer
Empower Girls Through Soccer
Empower Girls Through Soccer
Empower Girls Through Soccer
Empower Girls Through Soccer
Empower Girls Through Soccer
Referee and Team Leaders
Referee and Team Leaders

2022 has been a year of transition for our programming in Cameroon. After hosting the Super Cup in Kumba, bringing together champions from all of our community leagues, we hosted girls empowerment workshops and the U-17 Summer Holiday tournament. We know how important these programs are to youth because they are already asking what is next?

Our staff have continued to expand their leadership roles and are now shaping youth soccer at the neighborhood, divisional, regional, and national level. Coach Kingsley has taken his girls team to the top division in the South West Region. Divine, Caroline, and Nenne all hold executive positions in their neighborhood Veteran Clubs. Community leaders and club coaches across Kumba continue to stay connected to the office for training and resources to improve their coaching of players as student athletes and global citizens.

Looking to 2023, we intend to expand our community-centered educational soccer tournaments for both boys and girls in Kumba. We will continue to host the U-17 tournament for young men and add a brand new tournament for girls and young women in the spring!

So, we're asking for your help to reach our fundraising goal in the next few months and cover costs for the girls tournament next year!

Legend Academy Womens Team!
Legend Academy Womens Team!
We love the beautiful game.
We love the beautiful game.
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Girls completing pre-surveys.
Girls completing pre-surveys.

61 girls attended the first session. The theme of the event was #BreakTheBias and our target was United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #5: Achieve gender equality and empower all girls. The first workshop (March) started 3:30pm with arrival of girls and staff, followed by the registration of youth participants.

At 4pm, the first phase of the workshop was focused on the life skill: Making Gender Equality a priority in your daily life.The girls pledged the following:

  • #PledgeToUseMyVoice
  • #PledgeToChoose
  • #PledgeToShare

The workshop was interwoven with the life skills and the games implemented simultaneously. At the end of each topic and game, questions were asked. 

Part two of the program was based on group work, participants were divided into three groups based on the pledges, and they were given 10mins to brainstorm on what they have learned. Leaders of both groups facilitated their group’s presentations and time was allocated for questions at the end of each presentation. 

 In May, 68 girls attended the second event in this series.This time we focused on three more pledges:

  • #PledgeToChallenge
  • #PledgeToInclude
  • #PledgeToKnowMyRights

Women’s empowerment is not only to celebrate or advocate for career women. Women’s empowerment celebrates the fullness of ‘womanity’. That is, the opportunity for a woman, no matter where she is in the world, to be at liberty to choose, challenge, to be included and also to know her rights and who she wants to be and thrive: as a homemaker, a career woman or both – free from bias and stereotypes.  This was the main message we shared with the girls. We played games based on the curriculum and ask purposeful questions and answer that reflect the pledges to fight against Gender Bias.

 Part two of the workshop was based on boosting their confidence and self esteem, we shared them into 3 groups, with each pair representing a pledge, we had three volunteers from each group to read, it was very competitive and the group PledgeToChallenge emerged first with the best readers, we ended at 6pm with a group picture.

Girls listening to Ms. Nenne about the topics
Girls listening to Ms. Nenne about the topics
Pledges!
Pledges!
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Girls Team Photo
Girls Team Photo

The 2022 Girls programs for Open Field is creating new opportunities for girls from refugee communities living in Pittsburgh to play soccer and build new relationships with other girls and young women from different backgrounds. Reflecting back on 2021, highlights from the year include:

  • More female coach mentors than ever before, including the addition of two part-time staff as lead coach mentors who facilitated programming (shout out to Coach Loretta and Coach Chloe!)
  • More consistent participation than ever before
  • Field trip to RMU Women’s soccer game in October

As we moved into 2022, the word of the year thus far is FUTSAL!

"What is that?" Many of the girls asked.

They started the season with zero knowledge of the game (a Brazilian version of indoor soccer on a hard surface with some interesting rules). None of them had ever played organized soccer. As we near the end of the season, with 2 games remaining, confidence is increased. While they haven't won a game, a highlight so far has been scoring 4 goals in a recent game!

This is only the beginning... many of the girls are asking about playing for their high school teams next school year. 

Another highlight is the unity. One of our volunteer coach mentors shared:

Last October when we had the initial Northview Heights vs Crafton Heights game, there was a lot of fighting. Since then, quite a few of the girls from Northview would always bring up how much they disliked the girls from Crafton. I would hear things like

 "Next time we play them I'm gonna fight them!"

When we were picking up the girls in Northview for the RMU game I told them we were going to be picking up the girls from Crafton and again they were like "No we don't like them! They aren't allowed to come!" At the RMU game, when the girls could have sat anywhere and with whoever they wanted, one of the same Northview girls who would always make those kinds of comments was sitting with the girls from Crafton for most of the second half, getting along and having a good time. 

Flash forward to 2022, high school girls who used to want to fight one another are now training and playing together as teammates twice per week.

Goalkeeper Salha
Goalkeeper Salha
Girls in action!
Girls in action!

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Congolese girls show up at the start of the season
Congolese girls show up at the start of the season

The 2021 Pittsburgh Girls Programs for Open Field created new opportunities for girls from refugee communities living in Crafton Heights and Northview Heights to play soccer and build new relationships with girls and young women from different backgrounds. Conversations about social and emotional learning goals were included in each session and the fall season was focused solely on identifying and regulating emotions. Communication with parents near the end of the year increased participation, specifically in the field trip.Highlights include:

  • More female coach mentors than ever before, including the addition of two part-time staff as lead coach mentors who facilitated programming
  • More consistent participation than ever before
  • Field trip to Robert Morris University Women’s soccer game
  • More high school girls participating than ever before (9 teenage girls will form a soccer team to compete in the CitiParks indoor winter soccer league beginning January 2022)

Coach Chloe shared an experience about how soccer is bridging the gaps between refugee girls from different backgrounds. 

Last October when we had the initial Northview Heights vs Crafton Heights game, there was a lot of fighting. Since then, quite a few of the girls from Northview would always bring up how much they disliked the girls from Crafton. I would hear things like

 "Next time we play them I'm gonna fight them!"

 This past Sunday when we were picking up the girls in Northview for the RMU game I told them we were going to be picking up the girls from Crafton and again they were like "No we don't like them! They aren't allowed to come!" At the RMU game, when the girls could have sat anywhere and with whoever they wanted, one of the same Northview girls who would always make those kinds of comments was sitting with the girls from Crafton for most of the second half, getting along and having a good time. 

Building relationships between coach mentors, both staff and volunteers, and participants is fundamental to the work that we do. Reflecting on 2021, this is the greatest outcome. Thank you for investing in these critical relationships that provide transformational experiences for our girls.

Thanks for having our back!
Thanks for having our back!
HS Girls Team photo with new warm ups!
HS Girls Team photo with new warm ups!

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Girls team photo in the West End (PGH)
Girls team photo in the West End (PGH)

Our programming this summer is engaging 200 girls in Soccer for Social Impact programs on two continents: in Africa and North America. Thanks to partnerships in Cameroon and here in Pittsburgh, our summer camp game is stronger than ever! And more girls will be able to participate and learn from female coach mentors this year than any other year before.

We've linked up with long-time partners in Pittsburgh, like ARYSE and SHIM, and new ones like Mooncrest Neighborhood Programs and Woodland Hills School District. We've hired new coach mentors, including student athletes and recent graduates from local colleges, to give them a platform to combine their passion for the game of soccer and community development. We developed new curriclulum based on Social and Emotional Learning goals that align with our core values and the fundamentals of the game. Combine this altogether and you get a really special experience for our girls. 

Meanwhile in Cameroon, our girls completed their 30-day challenge to do healthy physical activities combined with dialogue about their mental health to round our their spring season. Now they're gearing up for summer Olympic-style competitions which challenge them to improve their own strength, fitness, and soccer skills over the summer holiday period. Last week, a select group of girls participated in a workshop to help us design a social enterprise that we can engage them in later this year. 

Thanks for supporting our efforts to empower girls thorugh soccer. We look forward to updating you again on our progress later this year!

Rita gets a new pair of cleats!
Rita gets a new pair of cleats!
Coaches hold safe space to share on the Northside
Coaches hold safe space to share on the Northside
Masoka was one of the awardees this Spring
Masoka was one of the awardees this Spring
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Organization Information

Open Field

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @openfieldintl
Project Leader:
Justin Forzano
CEO
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania United States
$3,866 raised of $5,000 goal
 
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$1,134 to go
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