Photo courtesy of NYCFC
By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
February 5, 2019-After Justin Haak broke his arm practicing gymnastics as a young boy, he switched to soccer. Justin then played for six years for the Chelsea Piers Soccer Club of the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League (CJSL) and it became a family affair as his father Julius volunteered as an assistant coach with his teams.
Coaching Justin as a Boys-Under-8 player was Ron Restrepo, now the CJSL President, who commented, “Justin was always a stand-out player, even at the age of eight years old! He enjoyed playing in the midfield and was a game changer on the field of play. Yet he was a team player and had the will to play any position for the team. Justin was very coachable and even had a winning mentality at a very young age. We would have Justin play up one or two years as he was that good and he was always willing to stay and attended other older club team practices as he was always looking to improve his game.“
Justin was born in Manhattan a day after 9/11, grew up in the East Village, then his family moved to the Bushwick section of Brooklyn when he was 10 years old. Seven years later at age 17, it’s a dream come true as Justin has signed a professional contract with New York City FC.
“When NYCFC was first announced, I knew that I wanted to play for the professional team in my own city where I’ve grown up in,“ Justin stated. “It’s an amazing chance for me and I just wanted to be a part of it. My parents were incredibly happy for me (upon signing a pro contract) because they knew that I’ve been working so hard for this my own life. To be able to play for the team in my own city in front of all these people I grew up around, it’s really an amazing feeling to give something back.”
Justin attended NYCFC pre-season camp last year and impressed in friendly matches vs. the LA Galaxy and Atlético San Luis of Mexico. He continued to train with the first team regularly throughout 2018.
He joins two other teenagers on NYCFC, James Sands and Joe Scally, who also grew up playing in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA).
With over 100,000 youth soccer players––both boys and 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 nine 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 Children With Special Needs. 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.