What a year! Open Field celebrated 10 years of life-changing experiences for youth through the global game of soccer. And despite the pandemic, we continued our programming in Cameroon and Pittsburgh. It was difficult to narrow the list to 5, but we did our best. Join us in this countdown of highlights from the past year.
No. 5 Celebrating International Women’s Day with Chatham University
Back in March, the weekend before everything shut down, we brought together dozens of girls from Pittsburgh’s immigrant and refugee communities for a college tour, soccer games, and conversations over pizza with players and coaches from the Chatham Women’s Soccer Team. We could not have done this without our gracious hosts, Coach Betsy, Coach Julie, and their players at Chatham and Jenna, Susie, and Suraj, amazing leaders from amazing partners ARYSE, SHIM, and Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh respectively!
No. 4 Equipment Campaign(s) and Shipment(s)
All you need is a ball… and in Cameroon, that is easier said than done. In total, three shipments of equipment made their way to Cameroon to support our programs on the ground thanks to three important partners across North America. Project Golden Goal, in Myrtle Beach, SC met us in Maryland for shipment #1 with nearly 100 brand new soccer balls that we included in the shipment of 5 barrels, which included soccer balls and jerseys. Second Kicks in Toronto, Canada shipped 5 boxes of gear through Douala International Airport that included primarily jerseys to outfit kids in our 2020-21 leagues. And with shipment #3, we sent over more jerseys to make sure every player in our leagues have jerseys, thanks to the year-long support of Peace Passers in Charlotte, NC who helped connect us with more than a dozen folks across the country who donated gear.
We’re already planning our next shipment in January 2021, so if you have soccer gear to give (mostly need soccer balls and team sets of jerseys) contact us and we can make it happen!
No. 3 Our First College Graduation!
One of our first program participants, David Enow, joined Open Field’s first after-school program at his secondary school in Nkamlikum in Kumba back in 2011. He was the President of the school club, an assistant coach alongside Coach Wallace, and eventually joined the staff in the office as an intern from 2014-2016. In 2017, he made the trip to the U.S. to pursue his dream of playing college soccer. He began this journey at a community college in Iowa in 2018 and transferred to Shoreline Community College in Seattle, WA in 2019 where he earned 4.0 in all semesters and was honored as the Fall Student Athlete with the highest GPA. In May 2020, David graduated with his associate’s degree in international business and plans to continue his studies to complete his bachelor’s degree in finance.
No. 2 Nine Hundred Ninety One (991) Youth Participants Engaged in Programming
Whether in was virtual or in-person, youth in Cameroon and Pittsburgh were elated to connect with our coach mentors after several months in quarantine. First it was YouTube and then it was Zoom. 45 kids ages 10-18 joined in virtual soccer + life skills sessions across the city of Pittsburgh.
During summer months, outdoor programming engaged 58 boys and girls in Crafton Heights three days per week and then extended to Northview Heights in the fall for 24 youth. In all, 82 youth in both communities participated in the field. Check out more photos here.
In Cameroon, we hosted our Super Cup 2020 in September to bring together boys’ and girls’ league champions from Mamfe, Bamenda, and Kumba for a 2-day summit on peacebuilding through soccer. Before the start of the Christmas holiday, 864 boys and girls registered to play in our 2020-21 leagues with the theme: Mental Health.
No. 1 YOU Joining Us In Celebrating A Decade of Dedication
Over the last several months, so many of you helped make our 10 year anniversary a memorable one.
This year, despite the pandemic forcing us to cancel some of our favorite events (we’ll be back with our PLAY4PURPOSE charity tournament in 2021), we connected with athletes, runners, and families across the country for a Virtual 5K over Memorial Day Weekend, shared authentic Cameroonian meals with our Pittsburgh friends at Taste of Africa at Home in October, and looked back at the last decade with our 10-Year Documentary earlier this month.
As you can probably tell from this list, we rely on our community to realize our vision and mission. The saying “It takes a village to raise a child” is not lost on us. In fact, we embrace it.
Thanks for being part of this journey with us and cheers to 2021!