PORTLAND, Ore. – In celebration of the Portland Timbers' 10-year anniversary in Major League Soccer, with the club’s community initiative, Stand Together and African Road, the Timbers announced today that the Fields For All partnership has expanded globally to build its first soccer field outside of Oregon in Munini, Rwanda at the Togetherness Soccer Center.
“We are honored to partner with African Road for this project to commemorate our 10-year anniversaries,” said Mike Golub, Timbers president of business. “This project highlights the unifying power of soccer to help heal, support, and provide long-term financial opportunities for the community, and as a result of African Road’s strong partnership and their long-term relationship with the Togetherness Cooperative we were able to celebrate our historic milestones on a global scale.
African Road, a Portland Metro based nonprofit, is also celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2020, working alongside local changemakers in East Africa. In 2011, African Road purchased a plot of land for 80 orphans in Rwanda who then hand dug a soccer pitch, which took three months of digging to prepare their dirt field. Gathering together in 1994 during the Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi, this group is called the Togetherness Cooperative. African Road has worked alongside Togetherness and founder Steven Turikunkiko, for 10 years, to fund projects, provide training, seed business startups and invest in strategic capital investment to help this group as they move toward self-sufficiency. During that time, Togetherness has grown to 142 young people.
Instead of offering a one-size-fits-all solution, African Road takes the time to listen and builds bridges for connection and learning that transform us all. They work with and support community-driven projects and programs with an eye on long-term stability, equality for women and youth empowerment. This model of development is sensitive to the local culture and guided by the communities themselves. From business training, to ID kits, to a soccer field, African Road creates opportunity for investment in change that equips communities to lift themselves up and thrive. You can find African Road on Facebook, Instagram, or online at www.africanroad.org.
Overall, the Timbers have contributed to 16 soccer fields and futsal courts since 2011, providing the greater Portland area with organized outlets for playing soccer as part of Fields For All with Stand Together and Operation Pitch Invasion partnering on the developments.
The development of the new facility is supported by generous donations from Timbers’ community sponsors, including adidas, KeyBank, Providence Health & Services and Squires Electric.
Fields For All aims to identify 'recreation deserts' – communities underserved by recreational activities for kids – and fill them with safe, healthy and high-quality playing surfaces. Its work focuses on areas with open community access and neighborhood support. In addition, Fields For All targets locations in close proximity to schools, youth clubs and recreation centers, providing ongoing programming to support organized and structured play for local area youth.
Through their community outreach platform, Stand Together, the Timbers are committed to furthering their community mission to harness the power of sport to improve the lives of children and families in the region through targeted programs, deep partnerships and philanthropic giving. For more information on the Timbers community outreach programs and partners, visit timbers.com/stand-together.