'Taste of Africa'

Written by Rebecca Sodergren on

12062012cameroonfoodWhile studying engineering at the University of Dayton, Justin Forzano spent three summers building water systems in Cameroon.

During his third summer, he hauled along a lot of soccer equipment, and “the people went nuts over it,” he said. His soccer stuff arguably might have been as popular as the water systems.

He graduated from college, moved to Pittsburgh for work, and kept thinking about Cameroon. Fast-forward to the summer of 2010, when the World Cup in South Africa focused international attention on sports as a development opportunity.

And so the Cameroon Football Development Program (CFPD) was born, with Mr. Forzano as executive director.

CFPD will hold a fundraiser, the second annual “Taste of Africa,” at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at Union Project in East Liberty. The women of the Cameroonian Community of Pittsburgh are donating and cooking up a big, vegetarian-friendly buffet of West African favorites, including rice, bean, corn, banana and chicken dishes (the photo is of last year's food). The event will also include Beer donated by East End Brewing, African music, Cameroonian-themed Jeopardy, a silent auction and raffles. Tickets, which are available at the door, are $25; for kids under 16, they’re $10. For information, go to

CFPD operates a two-pronged program in eight communities in Cameroon. An after-school soccer program at 12 Cameroonian schools is led entirely by Africans with some support from Mr. Forzano, who spent two months there this summer, training leaders and making connections in the villages. The second prong, planned for 2013, is to start a Cameroonian youth soccer league.

The organization is Mr. Forzano’s full-time gig now; in the States, he works on linking Pittsburghers with Cameroonians, building ties and raising funds.

So much for that engineering degree.

Justin Forzano photo

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