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2023
ANNUAL REPORT

PLAY. LEAD. INSPIRE.

Our mission is to improve the lives and futures of youth through sport.

Dear friends, 

It was another incredible year for Open Field. Another year of optimism and opportunity. Another year of growth and grounding. I continue to be humbled by the power of partnerships. Our collaboration with Elliott West End Athletic Association flourished in it’s second year and expanded access to fall and winter programs for youth. Our partnership with Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), also in it’s second year, supported more than double the number of student athletes on the men’s club soccer team. Both programs strengthened connections between foreign-born youth and their American-born neighbors through a common love of soccer.

Across the ocean, partnership with Kpo’ma Women in Liberia created opportunities for hundreds of teenagers in Bong County to participate in sport-based youth development programming for the first time. We updated our INTL Programs curriculum and trained a dozen coaches on positive youth development principles that they applied as they led their teams in practices throughout the summer and fall and capped the year off with a celebratory competition. Dialogue with partners in Guinea laid the groundwork for exciting expansion in 2024. And in Cameroon, we continued to support the local association, Open Field Cameroon, in establishing themselves as a stand-alone entity.

In 2023, we invested time and resources in strategic planning. Early in the year, we hosted a gathering for board members, staff, and youth participants. It was the first time all three groups were together in one space for a common purpose. Together, with support from Procopia Nonprofit Consulting, we explored the successes and shortcomings of our programs. Board members listened to perspectives of staff and teenagers who participated in our Youth Leader program, and shared their passion and commitment to our work. 

Later in the year, we hosted a series of guided conversations between board members and staff to map out strategic priorities for the next three years. From there, we developed a plan for an equity-focused, youth-centered approach to programming, operations, and governance. We finished the year with a renewed commitment to gender equity and sustainable growth documented in our 2024-2026 Strategic Plan. 

The latter part of 2023 marked five years since we made the decision to expand programs to Pittsburgh and re-brand from CameroonFDP to Open Field. Reflecting on the growth and opportunities that we created since then, I would be remiss not to shout out our partners, some of them listed at the bottom of this report. We wouldn’t be here without like-minded organizations committed to youth, community development, and a better future for the Pittsburgh region. There’s no doubt that our success in 2023 was rooted in partnerships. 

Enjoy this recap of a terrific year and thank you for supporting our mission. 

With gratitude,


Justin Forzano

Founder & CEO

Highlights

375
YOUTH
Ages 6-18
participated in
Pittsburgh programs
26
YOUTH LEADERS
employed as coaches
and referees
91%
OF
YOUTH
said Open Field helped them envision their future
86%
OF
YOUTH
shared they felt safe and supported at Open Field

YOUTH

PROGRAM
SUMMARY

Our Youth Program created opportunities for more than 375 youth ages 6-18 to participate in community-based soccer + life skills sessions, build relationships with coach mentors and teammates, and enhance their communication, teamwork, and emotional regulation. We hosted a Spring league where participation exceeded 120 youth ages 6-18 from Crafton Heights and Northview Heights. Teams were led by volunteer coach mentors with whom the youth have developed lasting relationships. 26 teenagers involved in the Youth Leader Program earned paychecks as assistant coaches and referees.

A new partnership with Steel City FC resulted in a fun week-long summer camp for 75 youth. Steel City FC coaches dedicated the early part of August to creating a fun, safe space for youth from Open Field and Elliott West End Athletic Association (EWEAA) programs to come together and play the game they love.

During the fall season, we continued the second year of our partnership with EWEAA and expanded opportunities for immigrant and refugee youth to come together with American-born youth to overcome cultural differences and build bridges through soccer. More than 100 youths aged 9-14 participated in league-style play and teenagers from within the Open Field community participated in weekly pick-up games ahead of the 2023-24 futsal season.

Outcomes

146
soccer + life skills sessions facilitated
13
community partners engaged in programming
75%
OF YOUTH
enjoyed working with one-on-one with a coach mentor
73%
OF YOUTH
felt a strong sense of group identity with their teammates

Why Sport? Why Soccer?

Active participation in team sports bolsters physical and mental health, social emptional skills, and overall well-being. Soccer creates community and a sense of belonging.

Student athletes graduate at a higher rates than their peers. Connecting success on the field to success in the classroom provides accountability and a support network.

Around the world, and even in the U.S., there are groups of people who see women as second class citizens. Sport levels the playing field and creates opportunities for girls to shine.

There are many opportunities for employment, aside from ‘going pro’, in and around support. Intentional sport programs create opportunities for youth to learn career readiness skills.

Welcome to the team, Julie!

In August 2023, Open Field welcomed Julie Bruening (pictured, right) to the team as the inaugural Pittsburgh Program Director. She began her tenure on a Friday evening the weekend we hosted a Coaches Training with the Center for Healing and Justice through Sport (CHJS) and from that point she was off to the races. Julie spent the rest of the year learning the ins and outs of our youth programming. She met with staff, volunteers, coaches, and youth and visited program sites as much as possible.

Soon after she started, Julie began planning for Future Forward (formerly Global Soccer League) – connecting with partners and leading a ‘listening session’ with youth participants in November to gain insight and direction on the best format for our newest program.

It’s important to note that this was not Julie’s first interaction with Open Field. That goes all the back to 2016 when she volunteered with us as a college student athlete at Chatham University!

YOUTH LEADER

program
SUMMARY

Open Field’s Youth Leader Program expanded significantly in 2023 to increase workforce readiness skills and employment opportunities for 26 refugee teenagers – nearly double the previous year. The program featured a Community Coach Training hosted in partnership with PA West Soccer; a Referee Skills 101 Training; and bi-monthly workshops covering topics like leadership, conflict resolution, goal setting, and time management. This effort resulted in paid training opportunities for participants to engage as assistant coaches and referees and fostered a supportive environment for them to develop and achieve their goals.

One highlight of the year resulted from a partnership with ARYSE. Together with Anna Brewer Productions and Liberate X, we facilitated a Video Skills project for 3 Youth Leaders, providing hands-on experience and skill-building in media production and entrepreneurship.

Outcomes

26
young men and women engaged in the program (50% girls)
12
enrichment workshops and training sessions facilitated
85%
reported improvement in their leadership skills
78%
applied their leadership skills on and off the field

Open Field Coach, Award- Winning Artist, and Entrepreneur

Yusuph Ulomi joined the Open Field team in Summer 2020 as a volunteer coach mentor and Swahili interpreter. He immediately connected with several youth in Open Field programs who hail from his native East Africa. In 2023, he continued to coach the high school boys team and expanded his leadership role in our Youth Leader Program. One Saturday each month in the first half of the year, Coach Yusuph facilitated workshops and training sessions with teenagers involved in the Youth Leader program, often driving the van to provide another transportation option.

In addition, he combined his passion for art and entrepreneurship to lead the Video Skills Project, which emerged as a beacon of self-expression and skill development for teenagers in our program. This initiative, facilitated in partnership with ARYSE, enhanced participants’ photography and videography skills, aligning with their entrepreneurial aspirations and paving the way for employment opportunities in the media field.

GIRLS

PROGRAM

Open Field’s Girls Program empowerd young women through soccer by fostering leadership skills, teamwork, and self-confidence. In its third year, the Girls Program encouraged participants to explore new opportunities and engage actively in their communities. By building trust with parents, Open Field staff and volunteer coach mentors bridge cultural divides and create more opportunities for girls to play soccer and have fun with their friends. 

Outcomes

90%
girls' parents gave positive endorsement of their daughters' participation
77%
girls said our programs provide opportunities for them to set individual goals
45+
girls consistently participated in our
Spring program

Coach Mentor and World Traveler

Chloe Kinnahan is our go-to person for all things volunteers and girls’ empowerment. She expanded her influence and impact in the Open Field community in 2023 as the Youth and Girls’ Program Manager. After coaching the Crafton Heights girls team all the way to an appearance in the CitiSports Futsal League Semi Finals, she set out to lead the first edition of our Spring Soccer + Life Skills League for youth ages 6-14.

Then in August she participated in Festival ‘23, a 7-Day Soccer for Good event hosted by Common Goal in Sydney, Australia alongside the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She returned to Pittsburgh with a renewed passion and refined skillset to use movement and sport as a tool for positive change in the lives of girls and young women in our programs.

Empowering Girls and Young Women

Fostering empowerment, leadership, and self-worth in every young girl through the spirit of soccer.

College

PROGRAM

Open Field’s College Program created opportunities for young men from immigrant and refugee backgrounds to pursue higher education while cultivating community and playing the sport they love in 2023. During the spring semester, the team trained once per week and played friendly matches against other community teams. The summer was spent focusing on recruiting, supporting student athletes with their application to CCAC and registration for classes. The fall season consisted of preseason games in August, league play in September and October, consistent practices, study halls, and one on one meetings with student athletes.

The program expanded after its start in Fall 2022, more than doubling the number of student athletes on the team in Fall 2023. The program provided structure and relationships for participants, which led to a strong sense of camaraderie and chemistry both on and off the field. Study halls had high attendance rates. The team also succeeded on the field, finishing with a 4-3-1 record and a fifth place finish in the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA). In 2023, we produced a mini documentary to highlight the journey of starting this new initiative. Watch on YouTube below!

29
STUDENT ATHLETES
12
COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN REPRESENTED
2.93
AVERAGE GPA (UP 40% )
4-3-1
WINNING RECORD

PRASON’S JOURNEY

Prason Gurung is one of the original 17 team members from the inaugural season who has remained a leader both on and off the field. He received a 3.79 GPA in the spring semester, landing him on the Dean’s List, and a 3.33 GPA in the fall semester while balancing school and soccer. He started every game in the Fall 2023 season at right back, putting in strong and consistent defensive performances. At the end of the year, he was nine credits away from graduating, and has applied to multiple schools in hopes of transferring to a four year university to study nursing starting in Fall of 2024. Well done, Prason!

Student Athlete Outcomes

93%
agreed they know they can talk to the coaching staff at Open Field if they have a problem at school or at work.
93%
agreed that the Open Field coaching staff made them feel welcomed at CCAC.
80%
agreed that being involved with the soccer team has made them want to continue taking classes at CCAC.
73%
agreed that Open Field coaches helped them find resources offered by CCAC that they were previously unaware of.
67%
agreed that being involved with the soccer team has impacted their academic experience in a positive manner.

Countries Represented

Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia, Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, Nepal, Burundi, USA, Somalia, Bhutan, India, Sudan, and Equatorial Guinea.

Farewell, Eric!

Eric Moreno joined the Open Field team in Fall 2022 as a youth coach mentor and van driver. Less than a year later he took the reigns of the College Program on a part-time basis while finishing his bachelors degree at Carnegie Mellon University. Over the course of the second half of 2023, he established relationships with key personnel at CCAC and with each and every student athlete on the men’s club soccer team. He directed them to tutors and mentors. He worked closely with Coach Pascal ‘Kalito’ Bikanura to ensure the team had everything they needed on an off the field.

After a successful fall season and semester, Eric left the program in good standing for the next College Program Manager.

INTL

programs

CAMEROON

GUINEA

LIBERIA

1,160

youth participated in sport-based youth development activities in 3 coutnries

Open Field continued to support activities with INTL partners facilitating sport-based youth development programs for more than 1,160 youth in Cameroon, Guinea, and Liberia. 

CAMEROON

The Open Field Cameroon association continued to host educational soccer competitions with themes dedicated to promoting the well-being of participants and improving the community.

LIBERIA

Our partnership with Kpo’ma Women created opportunities for hundreds of teenagers in Bong County to participate in sport-based youth development programming for the first time. Our newly-updated Africa Programs curriculum was utilized in training facilitated virtually (by our CEO) and in-person (with support from local leader, Ishmael Massaquoi) for a dozen coaches working with boys and girls soccer clubs. From September until December, teams participated in a league-style competition with the theme: Soccer for Education. 

GUINEA

We continued to strengthen ties with our partner Chris Nedelcovych Soccer Foundation. Planning in 2023 laid the groundwork for exciting opportunities in 2024!

COMMUNITY BUILDING

In 2023, we evolved and expanded our annual fundraiser from Taste of Africa to Taste of Home and Away. The event featured cuisine from Asia, East Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, representing the diverse backgrounds of youth participants in our Pittsburgh programs.

We are extremely grateful to our sponsors, partners, and everyone who joined us for Taste of Home and Away! Altogether, we raised nearly $50,000 to invest in our programs, 35% more than the previous year. Our taste buds are already salivating for this year’s event

SAVE THE DATE - October 19, 2024

PLAY 4 PURPOSE 2023

We’re grateful for all the teams that participated in our annual tournament. Together, not only did we witness spectacular soccer, but we also raised significant funds to support Open Field’s mission. Thank you for your support!​

FINANCIALS

In our programs, youth succeed on and off the field.

If you’d like to continue support us.