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Glory on the Grass

Open Field’s Future Forward League off to strong start highlighted by enrichment workshops, Jersey Day and start of competition

Pittsburgh Soccer Now is dedicated to sharing stories, reporting and assisting with the growth of soccer in Western Pennsylvania at all levels — including at the Grassroots level. We are excited to begin our newest initiative, Soccer Now… in the Community, as we work in building partnerships with community-based organizations dedicated to growing the game, while also making a positive impact and difference along the way. We are proud to share our first feature as part of this initiative, as we announce our first Soccer Now Community Partner: Open Field, Inc., as they’re building the Future Forward Soccer League, aimed at providing teens with soccer competition and enrichment activities.  We look forward to sharing more on the Future Forward Soccer League over the course of the next couple of months as part of this partnership to spotlight a soccer program that is making a difference, and the young people who have a chance to enjoy the ‘Beautiful Game’.     

There’s nothing better for a soccer player than to put on a brand new jersey.

For the teen participants of Future Forward Soccer League, the first Saturday of May brought the opportunity for teen participants from in and around the City of Pittsburgh to come to Dunbar Field and facility to enjoy soccer competition, attend fun enrichment workshops — and on this particular day — getting new jerseys from program sponsor, LBFoster!

On April 20th, Open Field officially launched Future Forward Soccer League for teens (https://openfieldintl.org/future/ )

“It’s been an incredible start,” Forzano shared as the program heads into its fourth week this coming Saturday.

The first week of the Saturday Soccer League welcomed 47 participants. In the second week, that number increased to 71 teenagers. In Week 3, Future Forward engaged 68 teens (with 10 unavailable due to running a 5k as part of Pittsburgh Marathon weekend activities).

The FFSL will feature three girls teams and six boys teams composed of youth from 12 different countries, speaking even more languages.

All programming is facilitated in English and Spanish, with some additional side-bar interpretation in Swahili and French.

Forzano shared that the program’s Enrichment Activities and Workshops were enjoyed by participants as much as getting out on the field to play.

“It’s cool to see how much the players were engaged during the workshops as much as they were on the field,” Forzano pointed out.  “We are starting to build a culture where teens feel free to talk about their goals and dreams, and we start to provide them with the support to achieve them!”

Future Forward League Saturdays thus far has included:

  • Week 1: First day icebreakers, introductions, and setting community values.
  • The enrichment workshop in Week 2 focused on “Creating your personal vision and purpose statements” led by Derrick Shoffner, Senior Director of Programs and Services at Vibrant Pittsburgh.
  • Week 3 focused on “Personality Mapping and Connecting Career Opportunities”, led by Open Field staff.
  • Since most of the careers that participants expressed interest in pursuing require a college degree, Week 4 will focus on “Financial Aid and Scholarships”, led by Taylor Raszman from JFCS Youth Services.

The schedule each Saturday will see the girls competition take place in the morning, while the boys attend the workshops, then in the afternoon, they will flip around, with the boys competing and the girls attending the workshops.

Boys

LTFC Lightening (Red)
Mooncrest (Orange)
Open Field (Yellow)
Crossroads Foundation (Black)
Free Agents (Green)
Allderdice (Blue)

Future Forward Week 3 / Match Week 1 Results (May 4)

Game 1 Mooncrest 2 – LTFC Lightening 4
Game 2 Free Agents 0 – Allderdice 6
Game 3 Crossroads 4 – Free Agents 2
Game 4 LTFC Lightening 1 – Allderdice 1
Games 5/6 Open Field Bye Week due to scheduling

Table after Match Week 1

Team Wins Losses Draws  Goal Diff
1   Allderdice    1 0 1 +6
2   LTFC Lightening    1 0 1 +2
3   Crossroads    1 0 0 +2
4   Open Field   0 0 0 n/a
5   Mooncrest    0 1 0 -2
6   Free Agents   0 2 0 -8

Interested in Volunteering with Open Field? 

Open Field is seeking volunteers to join the program.  Volunteers can assist by being a coach mentor and implement soccer and life skills programming for immigrant and refugee youth across the City of Pittsburgh. To become a volunteer, interested candidates can fill out this online form.  Volunteer application will be accepted from those ages 18+. If under the age of 18, Forazano has asked that interested candidates email chloe@openfieldintl.org who are curious about how to get involved.

Photo Gallery: Open Field Jersey Day (May 4, 2024)

Pictures courtesy Open Field Intl.

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Look for more coverage of Future Forward League to continue in the coming weeks on Pittsburgh Soccer Now!  

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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