The Eastern New York ODP team that toured Aberdeen, Scotland. Head coach
Cesare Maniccia is in back row on far left and assistant coach Dave Bundy is on far right.
By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
October 29, 2020-The Olympic Development Program (ODP) has a long history and it's the highest level of play in each state association. The geographic area of the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) is so large that ODP is divided into North and South teams.
25 years ago in July 1995, a Boys-Under-12 ODP North team made up of players who live north of New York City travelled to Scotland to play in the Aberdeen Football Festival, an experimental 7v7 tournament. THE YANKS ARE COMING read a headline in an Aberdeen newspaper and the team became a toast of the town, touring castles, going through a maze, meeting the Lord Provost plus professional players and even visiting a local jail. The team was led by head coach Cesare Maniccia and assistant Dave Bundy.
“The Scots did not expect us to be that good. Three of our players were scouted by three professional teams and, I believe, they talked to their parents in trying to convince them about enlisting in their youth academies,” Coach Maniccia recalled. “At the award ceremony on July 22 hosted by the City of Aberdeen, the Master of Ceremonies remarked, ‘I did not think that the Yanks could play football.’ “
Upon arrival, Eastern New York ODP arranged a friendly with a local team that placed second in the region. Although Eastern New York lost, they learned a good deal.
“Our first problem was the goalkeeper position. None of the keepers on our team could make the trip and so we picked one of the field players, Neal Keating, who performed superbly in goal,” Maniccia stated.
In a period of five days, Eastern New York ODP played a total of five games. The boys were behind at halftime in every game, the coaches made halftime adjustments and they wound up coming back in all five matches to be undefeated and become Aberdeen Football Festival champions.
“Dave and I were very impressed with the high level of community involvement. Our games were very little attended at the beginning, but the presence of spectators kept increasing with each game,” Maniccia concluded. “The Festival community was hugely impressed with the high level of our games and we received many compliments.”
The City of Aberdeen went out of their way to make it a memorable experience. The climax of the week was the Award Banquet which included a sit-down, four-course meal followed by a Festival video that included highlights from each of the 24 older teams plus the Eastern New York ODP squad.
With approximately 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.