True football (soccer) fans: Meet the OpenSports x PUMA winners

“As far as I remember I’ve always loved playing and watching soccer, it’s just something I can’t live without, it’s like a drug.”

To celebrate the pickup soccer scene in Toronto, we teamed up with Puma to hold a #PlayPickup #ForeverFaster photo and game reviews contest in September and October 2017. We footballers from all around Toronto to share their soccer pictures, or leave reviews after they have attended pickup soccer games posted on the OpenSports app. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who participated🤗.

Every Friday of the six week contest, one lucky player got blessed with a PUMA prize pack (new boots + ball — $300 value)!

Overall, we received 248 entries; some of our favourite entries here and here!

Meet Yash (see the main photo)!

“It’ll snow, I’ll bring whiskey” #MansOfNoFashions

We first met Yash under less than ideal circumstances. Kaylin posted a pickup game back in June at Trinity Bellwoods, it was very hot, and nobody showed up…Except Yash. It’s really embarrassing as a game organizer when not enough people show up to get a game going — you feel terrible — but Yash was super chill about it. Thanks to patience and forgiveness, and an utterly deep love for football, Yash now regularly hosts pickup games at Back Campus Fields at the University of Toronto. Even when it is real, real cold (see his IG post, below).

“It’ll snow, I’ll bring whiskey.” Yash repping summer gear at the beginning of the winter in 2017.

Yash grew up between New Delhi and Newcastle and is fairly new to Toronto. He works at The Carbon Bar as a barback (4.4 stars on Google reviews, not Yash, the bar). He’s wearing the Carbon Bar shirt in his photo so we decided why not go full out promo for Carbon Bar? You should go to Carbon Bar.

When he’s not playing footy, he likes to cook and hangout at good restaurants.

Yash loves soccer. After a staff work party, he and his co-workers planned a game at the beach and waited outed the rain to play. He says it was a great game and well worth it. We’ve even overheard him talking about playing on ice at the beach in Newcastle. It’s no wonder he is out playing in shorts and a tee when everyone else is bundled up.

How he will use his PUMA pack:

“I plan to use the boots any time I get a chance to play on the grass, the ball however shall come into play regardless.”

Meet Samantha!

“Be creative. Be inclusive. Be open to different ways of playing sports.”

Samantha is a health and fitness coach from King City. She specializes in workplace wellness programming.

“I like to play any kind of sport. I especially like outdoor activities such as soccer, hiking, cross country running, skiing, portaging/camping, etc.” She’s a legit serious hiker, travelling solo through the Icefields Parkway from Jasper, Alberta to the holy grail Canadian hiking spots: Banff.

Anything you’d like us to know/share with the OpenSports community.

“Be creative. Be inclusive. Be open to different ways of playing sports.”

What Sam will do with her PUMA pack:

“I’m going to use my new ball and cleats and play backyard soccer with my little cousins.” Spoken like a true former soccer coach, and overall generous person!

Meet Amadou!

“I don’t see myself not playing soccer. I will play until my body gives up on me.”

Amadou is originally from Senegal and moved to North America in the early 2000s. His dad was a soccer executive in Senegal. His house was the spot where all the soccer people met and he’s been playing the game for over 30 years now. He moved to Toronto six years ago and works as a french translator for a marketing firm. For fun, Amadou plays soccer, ice hockey, and ping pong and also hangs out with his friends, many of whom are in the Toronto soccer community) and does yoga. He also likes trolling his teenage brother when Real Madrid loses and he’s not the least bit sorry about it (he’s a Messi fan). Amadou team is Manchester United, people even ask him if he plays for them because he’s always wearing their gear! A true fan right there.

Ever take techniques from other sports and apply them to soccer? A few years ago, Amadou lived in Montreal and use to play with a guy who played hockey and was fairly new to soccer. He would always hip-check people (as you would in hockey) while defending. Amadou always gives him stick about it to this date, but it has created a great friendship!

What he’ll do with his PUMA pack:

“It’s all about the photo op, obviously! I will post it on The Gram! No seriously, I will enjoy playing with the Puma ball while Rocking the Puma shoes this winter! I will be sure to give OpenSports props on The Gram! Maybe I was serious about the photo op, after all! :)”

Meet Payam!

“As far as I remember I’ve always loved playing and watching football/soccer, it’s just something I can’t live without, it’s like a drug”

Payam is a power organizer, running weekly games for his friends at Ultra Sports or Major League Sportsplex through OpenSports. He’s lived in Toronto for 15 years. He studied mechanical engineering at Ryerson, worked for a couple of years in engineering and recently completed his Master’s in mechanical engineering at UofT (congrats!)

As far as I remember I’ve always loved playing and watching football/soccer, it’s just something I can’t live without, it’s like a drug. I have been playing almost every week for the past 10 years now. From the beginning of my undergrad at Ryerson, somehow, I always had a lot of friends who played soccer and they had friends who played soccer and then their friends and so on. I still play with some of the same people after all these years…

“And as far as I remember, even though in our circle there were always a lot of people who wanted to play, the poor organizer had to always do all the text messaging, booking, etc. It would become very difficult, messaging 15 people every week, each having different time or sometimes even location preferences. It’s been a few years now that I have somehow become that poor person lol. So, a few months ago I was looking for an app that could let people transfer money to me for an event even if it wasn’t necessarily a sport event. Because no one ever had the exact change to pay me after every game and sorting out the pay was always trouble at the end of every game. So, payment was the biggest thing for us until the night I found your app. Not only people could pay me before every game but it’s also made messaging everyone and organizing games a lot easier. So, the day after, I told everyone to download this app and I’ll explain why after lol. It took some time and effort to get all of them on the app but I think I’ve got everyone on now and they all see what I see now, how its actually easier organizing through the app….

“A fun short story …. hmm … one of my cousins lives in Madrid, and a few years ago I went to visit him in December. He had decided that we should go to this soccer tournament/political party fundraising in their neighbourhood the day after I arrived. I was jet lagged, it was early in the morning and when we get there I see this big concrete playground with fences filled with young people doing some insane freestyle tricks while warming up, so I think to myself we should probably go home and go back to sleep (laughs). But it turned out to be awesome, I remember in the middle of the game I caught myself thinking that I’m in some random fenced concrete soccer pitch in Madrid and there are random people yelling at me in Spanish and there is more random people sitting around the pitch drinking hot chocolate, eating churros and watching us and I’m actually dribbling past people! And then it just felt amazing (laughs) and what was more fun was that we actually did pretty good and finished second. I still remember how good those hot chocolate and churros were.”

Meet Fari!

Fari is a true testament to the phrase “You never know who’s watching”!

Fari’s a father of two, who plays soccer three to four times a week and organizes lots of games on OpenSports in the northern part of the city with his friends. He works in IT.

His love of soccer began early. Fari was recruited to his first house league team when prior to a game a coach spotted him shooting goals in a distant field. Fari was equipped with a jersey and sent to play. The team won the game and he had two goals.

Anything you’d like us to know/share with the OpenSports community:

“It’s a great app!! I have and would recommend it to anyone looking to be more active. It’s a great way to make friends.”

What he’ll do with his PUMA pack:

“I plan to enjoy the cleats during the summer season, but they are very nice as I’ve tried them on.”

Thank you to everyone who entered the Puma prize pack contest and don’t worry if you didn’t win this time, there will be future contests to win some cool gear. Congratulations to our final winner, Leon and all other players who were lucky enough to win some gear. We hope you enjoy your awesome Puma Boots and ball. Happy footballin’, everyone⚽️✌️!

Remember to post games on the app even if there are just a few spots open. There’s always people looking :)

Your friends, Kaylin, Alex, Alicia, and the OpenSports Fam ❤

More contest info below: