Over the last two months, our team in Cameroon have been busy organizing elections in 11 neighborhoods in Kumba and Mamfe. This time, the term is 2 years long. We want young people to benefit from a longer experience in a leadership position. Each community elected 4 peers to serve in a leadership role on the youth council. They will help organize play in their community, referee and manage games, and plan community service projects.
Clorane, who is the President of Metta Quarter neighborhood, said after the training:
"I am impressed. I attended the training today and I am now 'loaded' with information about the responsibility. Thank you to my peers for trusting me to be a youth leader. Thank you to Open Field for organizing such a grand exercise."
We couldn't agree more. Thanks to the leadership of our staff in Kumba, we are able to host phase 1 of the trianing in our office. Phase 2 will take place in the field and focus on refereeing and field management. From there, with their support, we will launch league play in November!
Thanks for your support to make this happen.
We're proud to share updates from Cameroon demonstrating the power of your investment in sport to yield positive social impact.
One: Our latest step toward sustainability just got the boost it needed to get off the ground. Thanks to 12 investors from our supporter network, we raised $5,000 in start up capital and now we're launching a social enterprise in Cameroon! Our new Event Equipment Rental business, led by Ashu and Killian, will begin generating revenue by lending canopy tents, tables, chairs, and other party essentials out to individuals and community groups for any special occasion. We'll save money we used to spend on these items for our tournament launching & championships, too. We hope this is the first of many initiatives of this kind.
Two: We're bringing back our U-17 tournament after many years... The theme for this years event is Promoting Peace & COVID-Prevention. The competition kicked off on Sunday and runs thorugh August 1st. We decided to bring back this initiative because many youth are beginning to 'age-out' of our main programming and leagues and we wanted to ensure they had some positive activities to keep them engaged during the summer holiday.
Three: We're hosting our first-ever Olympics-style competition in all our neighborhoods. Youth will register their times running the 400m, 800m and counting their juggling, push ups / sit ups, and scoring on goal from a distance this month and again in August to see how they improve their own personal goals over the course of the long summer holiday. The theme here is personal growth and goal-setting. We are encouraging them not to compare themselves to anyone else, but try and improve themselves as they want to.
Four: 7 youth leaders have been selected to participate in a computer literacy course. The highly competitive selection process was applied to ensure that we invest in those who really want to gain these skills and make the most of this opportunity. Participants selected for this month-long program will gain new skills and knowledge about information technology. We hope this is a launch pad for future skill development to get them on the path to employment or continued education.
What started with educational soccer leagues has blossomed into may more ways of engaging youth on and off the field... all thanks to your commitment to our work!
We launched our latest league in December of last year and our youth could not have been more excited. Nothing brings more joy to them than having a soccer ball at their feet. After the stress and strain of 2020, we decided that focusing on mental health during soccer sessions and games seemed to be the most appropriate way to support our players and coaches.
Leagues are playing in 12 communities in 3 cities in the Southwest and Northwest Regions of Cameroon. And as we enter a new month, we begin Open Field’s own version of March Madness. Quarterfinals will soon kick off in each community as teams begin searching for the #1 spot and a chance to play in the Kumba Super Cup later this Spring. One team will emerge victorious in each of the U-12 and U-15 divisions.
In this report, we highlight activities in Kosala and meet Jesus, the neighborhood’s top goal scorer.
The four teams in Kosala have all played 10 matches. So far Volunteer FCis taking the lead with 14 points. They have won 3 matches, tied 5 matches, and lost 2 matches. After them is a three-way tie with 12 points each between:Doing Good FC, Super Boys, and Dream Team FC.The Kosala tournament is very engaging and competitive and at this point, any time can take first place!
Now about the league’s leading goal-scorer Jesus. He is 12 years old and lives with his mother and two sisters. He is the man of the house. His mom is a peasant farmer who takes care of the family by selling plantains, and cassava at the local market.
Jesus said his favorite moment is going to the field to play soccer with his friends. All thanks to Open Field for giving him the opportunity to showcase his talent and love of the game, since he wasn't able to do so anywhere else because other local soccer academies and training centers cost money which his family cannot afford.
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 via the link below!
P.S. We're inspired to continue this work because of kids like Jesus and people like you who invest in us. Let’s keep building!
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.
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!
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