Smithtown Arsenal after winning the national championship last summer.
By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
January 7, 2014-Besides the joy of running up and down a soccer field with their friends engaging in the wonderful cardiovascular exercise that is soccer plus the excitement of mastering control over a soccer ball, here are 14 reasons why well over 100,000 New York children and teenagers have chosen to play in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) in 2014:
1. State Open Cup. The State Open Cup begins with three games of group play in the first round and concludes with the finals on May 31 and June 1 at Stringham Park in LaGrangeville. The Smithtown Arsenal know that you got to be in it to win it. Arsenal entered the 2013 State Open Cup and wound up as Boys-Under-16 national champions while the Dix Hills Elite made it all the way to the Boys-Under-15 national finals before losing to Santa Barbara White of California, 2-1, on an overtime penalty kick.
2. Arch Capital Group Cup. The Arch Capital Group also kicks off with three games of group play in the first round and ends with the championship games on June 7 at the Peter Collins Soccer Park in Plainview. Unlike the State Open Cup, you need not be the best team in the state to win the Arch Capital Group Cup. Thanks to our friends at Arch Capital Group who provide the funds so that our players can keep on dreaming.
3. Presidents Cup. For those travel teams not yet considered elite, the Presidents Cup offers an opportunity to play regional competition just like the State Open Cup does. If a team wins the Region 1 Presidents Cup, they move on to the national championships. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, the Capital United Blue Fusion won the Regionals and represented Eastern New York at the Nationals, winning the Girls-Under-17 National Presidents Cup last year.
4. Kohl’s American Cup. The Kohl’s American Cup provides intramural players an opportunity to experience a high-quality statewide tournament in a fun environment. A soccer club selected by Eastern New York hosts the Kohl’s American Cup every October. The past three autumns, the Northern United Soccer Club of the Capital District Youth Soccer League hosted this top intramural tourney.
5. Eastern New York Premier League. Many of the top teams in each of Eastern New York’s 11 travel team leagues are accepted into the Eastern New York Premier League (ENYPL) each year so that they can play comparable opponents in competitive games. In the hierarchy of youth soccer, the ENYPL is above travel team play and below US Youth Soccer-affiliated premier leagues such as the Region 1 Premier League and Northeast Regional Premier (NERP). Yet the strength of the ENYPL was demonstrated last June when two league teams, the Bayport Tsunami and FC Somers Razors, won the State Open Cup,
6. Olympic Development Program. ODP is considered the highest level of competition in the state. Each year, players must be revaluated by the ODP professional staff of coaches for a position on each age-specific team. The identification process ends each summer with the most elite players within Region 1 competing for a position on the regional team. Players are then identified by United States Soccer Federation (USSF) staff coaches for possible entry to the national teams program. Crystal Dunn and Cari Roccaro are two Eastern New York ODP players who are currently representing the United States internationally yet even those players who do not make the Region 1 or the national teams often use ODP as a springboard to college scholarships and even on to professional soccer.
7. ODP College Showcase. College coaches scout ODP players, both boys and girls, at the ODP College Showcase that Eastern New York hosts every April at Golden Goal Park in Fort Ann. The interest from college coaches helps the ODP players from the Northeast United States gain entrance and scholarship to the university of choice.
8. Futsal. Futsal is the only version of indoor soccer approved by FIFA, soccer’s world governing body. Many of Brazil’s best players ever such as Pelé, Zico, Socrates, Bebeto, Ronaldinho and Marta all played a version of this 5v5 developmental game as children. 120 youth soccer teams are playing futsal in New York City gyms this winter in New York Futsal, under the umbrella of Eastern New York.
9. TOPSoccer Special Children’s Program. This is a wonderful program for Children With Special Needs. Special Children playing soccer in an organized league actually started in Eastern New York back in 1978 when the Huntington Boys Club (HBC) and Massapequa Soccer Club separately started programs in an era when Special Children playing sports is not as accepted as it is today. Craig Ludin, who has Down’s Syndrome and has been playing for HBC since he was a young boy, received so many medals in the Special Olympics that he has been inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
10. Risk Management. To protect our players, Eastern New York conducts background checks on coaches and referees before they can participate in our games. They must pass this background check every two years to continue to be involved in our competitions. Eastern New York also provides awareness education to coaches, communicating information regarding field and player safety.
11. College Scholarships. Every summer, Eastern New York awards six $1,000 college scholarships to help defray the cost of college for deserving high school seniors. Five Eastern New York leagues––Capital District Youth Soccer League, Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League, East Hudson Youth Soccer League, Long Island Junior Soccer League and Westchester Youth Soccer League––all have separate scholarship programs as well.
12. Coaching Education. Under the supervision of Eastern New York Director of Coaching Instruction Tim Bradbury, the coaching licensing curriculum provides all soccer coaches, from the beginner to the advanced, with up-to-date theoretical and practical knowledge so that Eastern New York coaches can help our players develop to their full potential. Coaches can earn state and national coaching credentials plus the courses offer valuable information and current coaching trends state-wide, nationally and internationally. All courses are available in both English and Spanish.
13. Referee Certification. Every Eastern New York game is officiated by a referee and often two assistant referees. All these officials must pass a rules test after attending a certification class administered by the USSF. Annually, officials must pass a written rules test as well as a physical fitness test to be able to continue to referee––also administered by the USSF. Officials can improve through gaining game experience, clinics and field assessments.
14. A Long and Proud History. Our sister organization, the Eastern New York State Adult Soccer Association, was founded 101 years ago, in 1913, the same year that the USSF was founded. The Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association was founded in 1972, although two of our leagues––the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League and Long Island Junior Soccer League––pre-date our existence. We are very proud of both our soccer legacy and phenomenal growth as millions of kids have played soccer in Eastern New York. Although some have gone on to play professional soccer plus in the World Cup and Olympics, all have learned the value of teamwork, perseverance, sportsmanship and getting along with others through the life lessons they have learned on our soccer fields.
With 123,843 youth soccer players––68,587 boys and 55,256 girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 11 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Special Children. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log on to http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.