The Oakland Roots soccer club hosted its 2022 home-opener at Laney College Football Stadium on Saturday, facing off against Monterey Bay FC. Last year, the Roots were forced to cancel their June 19 opener minutes before kickoff due to the turf field at Laney being deemed unplayable by league officials.
Roots fans attending Saturday night’s game were greeted by the sight of new turf and a bold sign on the sidelines that read “Indigenous Land,” an acknowledgment by the club that their field was built on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Ohlone. Prior to the game, Corrina Gould, chair and spokesperson for the Confederated Villages of Lisjan, blessed the field.
The home-opener wasn’t without its glitches. New security protocols at the venue (non-clear bags are one of the items now prohibited by the club at the stadium, but many fans were unaware) resulted in some confusion and a slow check-in process. As a convenience, the Roots provided fans with branded, clear-plastic bags, and will continue to hand them out at every home game.
Despite the early hiccups—and the fact that the team lost the match 3-2—fans enjoyed the sold-out home opener. The Oaklandside’s photojournalist, Amir Aziz, was on the sidelines to capture the game.
The Roots’ next home game will take place on Saturday, April 2, at 7 p.m. at Laney College. Tickets are on sale now.
Amir Aziz is a photographer and videographer from Oakland, California. Using photography as his primary medium, Amir documents life and times in his community and the rapid changes in his environment. He's covered music events and social justice movements in the U.S. and abroad for local and international publications. Before shelter-in-place, he traveled to over 10 countries producing multimedia projects juxtaposing the experiences of locals elsewhere to those in his hometown of Oakland. Amir hopes to continue to bridge the gap between African diaspora communities and oppressed groups in the world through multimedia storytelling.
Azucena Rasilla is an East Oakland native, a bilingual journalist reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.