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Soccer + Life Skills for 1,000+ Youth in Cameroon

by Open Field
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Soccer + Life Skills for 1,000+ Youth in Cameroon
Soccer + Life Skills for 1,000+ Youth in Cameroon
Soccer + Life Skills for 1,000+ Youth in Cameroon
Soccer + Life Skills for 1,000+ Youth in Cameroon
Soccer + Life Skills for 1,000+ Youth in Cameroon
Soccer + Life Skills for 1,000+ Youth in Cameroon
Soccer + Life Skills for 1,000+ Youth in Cameroon
Soccer + Life Skills for 1,000+ Youth in Cameroon
Soccer + Life Skills for 1,000+ Youth in Cameroon
Soccer + Life Skills for 1,000+ Youth in Cameroon
Soccer + Life Skills for 1,000+ Youth in Cameroon
Soccer + Life Skills for 1,000+ Youth in Cameroon
Soccer + Life Skills for 1,000+ Youth in Cameroon
Soccer + Life Skills for 1,000+ Youth in Cameroon
Soccer + Life Skills for 1,000+ Youth in Cameroon
Divine and Nenne sit at the TV station
Divine and Nenne sit at the TV station

After celebrating International Women's Day in fashion this year, everything changed. We quickly pressed pause on our programming in Cameroon and in the USA in response to the threat of COVID-19. After taking a moment to process, we responded in two different ways. 

In Cameroon, we partnered with a local TV station and began broadcasting a weekly TV segment that included awareness about precautions that youth could take to prevent the spread of coronavirus and keep themselves and their families healthy and reduce risk of infection. In addition to educational messaging, the TV segment included exercises and soccer skills that kids could do in their own homes while practicing social distancing and shelter in place. After a few weeks, Youth Leaders joined the TV program to share their experience and serve as role models and educators to their peers. 

In Pittsburgh, we produced a 4-week virtual program and continued dialogue with our Youth Leaders from Northview Heights. Last month we hosted a week-long 5-day workshop on setting goals and building good habits. Coach-mentors facilitated conversations with youth participants, set and track personal goals they identify themselves, and featured an amazing guest speaker, Clara Kitongo, who share her experience and journey from attending a challenging, all-girls high school in Uganda to college at Chatham University, floating around in different jobs before pursuing a master's degree from Carnegie Mellon University and finally landing her 'dream job' at Tree Pittsburgh, combining her passions, environmentalism and social justice. 

We're grateful to continue inspiring and engaging youth through (even virtually, in ways we never thought possible) through the global game of soccer. Thank YOU for supporting us along the way!

Community Leader, Bidias, leading a TV segment
Community Leader, Bidias, leading a TV segment
Youth Leaders connect with guest speaker, Clara
Youth Leaders connect with guest speaker, Clara

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Comfort is one of the new members of our program
Comfort is one of the new members of our program

We've got a lot to celebrate as we grow our girls programming in Cameroon and Pittsburgh! Thanks to your generous support, we've been able to continue our Girls Leadership Initiative in Kumba into the new year, with the league finals being played this weekend (Mar 14) and our Super Cup & Leadership Conference the following (Mar 20 and 21).

Comfort, one of the young women who joined our program this year shared "As the day goes by, I have gained a lot of skills as a player and lot of educational materials. I am now more responsible in my team and what makes me so happy is that at first I was very shy and stubborn to my mum, but because of Open Field my mum is encouraging me in anything I ask of her because she said since I started attending the program I have changed."

Over in Pittsburgh, we celebrated an awesome weekend with 36 girls from immigrant and refugee communities at Chatham University. Thanks to our hosts, the womens' soccer team, our girls enjoyed a Soccer + Life Skills Clinic, campus tour, and coversation with players over pizza on the plaza on a beautiful sunny day. 

Many girls exclaimed "I want to go to college here when I get older!"

We hope the day inspired them to study hard and prepare themselves for this opportunity to continue their education in the future. 

Girls discuss with a peer referee before kick off
Girls discuss with a peer referee before kick off
Girls group at Chatham University on IWD2020
Girls group at Chatham University on IWD2020
Our girls: ready to play soccer anytime, anywhere!
Our girls: ready to play soccer anytime, anywhere!

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In Cameroon our life skills and girls’ empowerment activities are thriving, engaging more boys and girls than ever before, thanks to continued support from FIFA Foundation and a new grant from the United Nations Development Programme in Cameroon! 

Due to the ongoing crisis in Cameroon, there are more than half a million internally displaced persons in the Southwest and Northwest Regions of Cameroon, with tens of thousands living as refugees in neighboring Nigeria. With support from UNDP, we expanded our Sport for Good programming to serve youth in 12 different neighborhoods in three cities: Kumba, Bamenda, and Mamfe, specifically targeting neighborhoods with a large influx of new youth who have been forced to flee their villages in nearby rural areas.

To support this growth, we expanded our team, bringing on 5 new Community Leaders (bringing that number of part-time employment for young adults to nine total) in addition to our eight full time staff. Currently, our educational soccer leagues engage more than 1,000 youth.

We’re focusing on promoting social cohesion and life skills through the beautiful game, using our youth-led model that we’ve developed over the years. Our training workshops and the structure of our training sessions and league play increase the skills and confidence in teenagers to be role models to younger kids in their neighborhood. 

We believe that every kid deserves a role model - someone to look up to and learn from. In this way, role models create a positive influece and a ripple effect in their community. Your support will ensure more teens get the training they need to become a role model.

Please consider a financial gift to Open Field this holiday season to support youth whose lives will be forever changed by your contribution.

Displaced youth stand with new neighborhood teams
Displaced youth stand with new neighborhood teams
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Big Change Over the Summer!
Big Change Over the Summer!

As you may have noticed, we are sporting a brand-new name: Open Field. We’ve come a long way and grown so much since we began this journey as Cameroon Football Development Program in 2010. We’re excited to share this transformative time in our organization’s history with you and begin by saying THANK YOU for your support over the years!

It’s not just our name and logo that have changed, we have expanded our mission, improved our tag line, updated our website, and revamped our social media presence, all to better communicate our global mission to improve the lives and futures of youth through sport. 

So, what’s different? 

For the past 2.5 years, we focused on developing a Sport for Good model to scale and replicate in communities around the world. With continued support from the FIFA Foundation, we prioritized leadership training and skill-building experiences for older youth to serve as mentors and role models on and off the field to younger kids in their community. The result of this investment is a culturally-relevant and flexible approach to programming that is youth-led, community based, and ready to expand. 

Where are we going?

We launched our first U.S. program in Pittsburgh in June. Through collaboration with community-based organizations, our summer programming engaged more than 100 boys and girls ages 5-18 from all different backgrounds in low income neighborhoods across the city. Our Cameroon programming is expanding in two more cities thanks in part to a grant from the United Nations Development Program. Most recently, we signed a memorandum of understanding to explore expansion in another West African country. 

With your support we have made a positive impact in the lives of thousands of youth through the global game of soccer. Looking ahead, we are humbled and thrilled to continue to reach thousands more as Open Field. We welcome you on this next phase of our journey!

First cohort: Youth Leaders in Pittsburgh program
First cohort: Youth Leaders in Pittsburgh program
3rd Cohort: Youth Leaders in Cameroon
3rd Cohort: Youth Leaders in Cameroon
Girls league champs in Kumba!
Girls league champs in Kumba!

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Best player of the tournament!
Best player of the tournament!

Last month we finished up our boys leagues with championships in 7 neighborhoods! Since November, nearly 600 youth have been participating in educational soccer leagues in Kumba and Bamenda, Cameroon. We hired 4 new community leaders to assist our staff in this roll-out of PLAY4PURPOSE activities. Supporters like you funded the production of 12 goal posts and shipped 9 barrels + 30 bags of soccer gear halfway across the globe to make this a reality!

The theme for this most recent edition of competitions was Leadership & Good Governance, with a focus on Civic Engagement, so youth participants learned about topics like "Helping a Friend" and "Be a Team Player" and "Respect Others". They also volunteered in their neighborhoods, with each group taking the lead on a community service project. 

What next?

Our boys will continue training in their respective communities. Three neighborhoods where we launched programming last year will hold elections for Youth Councilors: peer leaders who will serve as referees, team captains, and match delegates. 

One of our Community leaders, Bidias, said of his most recent experience "I want to thank the CameroonFDP. You all have changed my life - I can never be the same again. I am truly grateful."


We couldn't have said it better ourselves. Thank you for your support!

Learning life skills before kick off
Learning life skills before kick off
Playing in the field
Playing in the field
Bidias after a training session
Bidias after a training session

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Organization Information

Open Field

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @openfieldintl
Project Leader:
Justin Forzano
CEO
Pittsburgh, PA United States

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