Let's Build The Marla Ruzicka Memorial Futsal Field
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This is a small project with a big heart! Our total goal for the Marla Ruzicka Memorial Field is $80,000. Our project is sustainable! Monthly and annual upkeep will be paid for by membership, rental, and tournament fees. As they say in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come!”
What is Futsal ?
Futsal is an exciting, fast-paced soccer game played across the world. It is a scaled-down version of traditional soccer. Many of the world's greatest players grew up playing Futsal and credit this game with developing their skills. Futsal is proven to increase player engagement, enjoyment, and technical development. At any Futsal field, you will find a diverse group of people who may not speak the same language but enjoy playing together, assembling, and bonding over their love of the game.
The Mission of the Marla Ruzicka Memorial Futsal Field is to give back to the community that gave so much to Marla. Lake County is the poorest county in California. Our goal is to unite communities and create healthy interactions and relationships for the betterment of our youth and community as a whole.
Here’s what we’re doing…
The purpose of the Marla Ruzicka Memorial Field is to provide a place where people of all backgrounds and ages can come together to connect to their community and play the sport they love: soccer.
When Marla was a Sophomore at Clear Lake High School she wanted to play soccer. At the time, there was no women's soccer team. In true Marla fashion, she became determined to create one. She overcame obstacles and kept pushing until one was created—a team that still exists today.
After watching both children and adults interact last fall and winter at the indoor league in Lakeport, Mark Ruzicka, Marla's twin brother, was inspired to develop a plan for a permanent, accessible, Futsal court in our community. He watched his teenage daughter and her friends improve their game quickly ,but more importantly, he watched them gain self-confidence and meet new people from diverse backgrounds.
Mark obtained approval from Westside Park Board to build the Futsal field. He contacted Urban Soccer Park, a well-respected vendor that builds soccer parks in urban areas around the U.S., which will construct the field. He pulled together a diverse group of people to help him honor Marla.
The team has now turned its attention to securing financial support for the project. Together, we are developing the tools and materials needed to enable Mark to reach out to local businesses and community members. Also, the team is working on fundraising with friends and supporters of Marla past and present.
Marla Ann Ruzicka was born and raised in Lakeport, CA. She graduated from Clear Lake High School in 1995 and then went on to Friends World College, now the Global College of Long Island University-Brooklyn.
Marla founded the nonprofit CIVIC, Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (later rebranded to Center for Civilians in Conflict) in 2003. Marla was a vibrant, passionately caring advocate who worked with Iraqi and Afghan families to secure assistance from the U.S. military for harm suffered in the wars. On April 16, 2005, Marla was traveling on the road between Baghdad and the international airport with her Iraqi colleague, Faiz Ali Salim, when a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives right next to their car. She was just 28.
According to a blog on the CIVIC Website:
"She was tireless in her efforts on [civilians’] behalf. She confronted, cajoled, and convinced generals, diplomats, and politicians that the U.S. had a responsibility to the families of those killed or injured by American military operations that recognizing the harm done to civilians was a moral imperative.
After Marla's death, her friends and family picked up her mission. They carried it forward, eventually transforming a small, personal campaign into an international NGO that now works on behalf of civilians in 13 countries and 9 conflicts."
(pic of futsal field here)
Meet the Team
Marla B. Keenan
"Marla B," as we affectionately call her, joined CIVIC shortly after Marla's death in 2005. Not only did Marla B help keep the vision alive, but she also worked with other directors and staff to expand the work beyond Iraq and Afghanistan to 9 conflicts in 13 countries. She has worked with the United Nations, NATO,African Union, foreign military and diplomatic leaders, and the U.S. Congress and Military. Marla B left CIVIC in 2018 and now works as a civilian protection consultant based in Austin, TX.
Urban Soccer will be building a field at Westside Community Park has built many fields from the San Francisco Bay Area to Upstate New York. The company has skyrocketed and recently expanded, moving its headquarters from California to Boise,Idaho. The high-quality product they produce, and their love, knowledge, and understanding of soccer as community builders are truly priceless!
Every Project like ours needs a dedicated, experienced leader to reach its full potential, and Julio is an obvious choice. While living in the Bay Area, Julio identified warehouses and transformed them into makeshift indoor soccer courts. His experience with building leagues, including the highly successful LCCA Indoor Soccer League in Lakeport, was the main inspiration behind this Project. His understanding of how soccer can turn kids' lives around or keep them on a positive,healthy path makes him the perfect fit. The soccer community in Lake County is so blessed to have him back
Mark is Marla Ruzicka’s twin brother. Born 6 minutes apart, both grew up playing sports in Lakeport, California. Marla encouraged Mark to go to Honduras in the late 1990's. It was there he met his wife and his first child was born. Mark became part of a community in a rural Honduran town working to assist single mothers, bringing emergency aid after Hurricane Mitch. Most recently he helped setup a COVID-19 triage and is helping now with emergency food assistance after two massive Hurricanes
He feels this is a wonderful way to memorialize his sister, while filling a void in a county troubled by extreme poverty, teen pregnancy and substance abuse.