By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
July 3, 2017-Although there may be a rose in Spanish Harlem, surprisingly there is not as much soccer as in other Latino communities since many families who live there originate from Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic, where béisbol is king. But soccer is becoming more popular in Spanish Harlem due to the outstanding work of Big Apple Youth Soccer League (BAYSL) President Luis Montoya and other league volunteers.
Luis Montoya instructing at the start of the clinic
The BAYSL hosted a free clinic on Saturday, June 17 at the East Harlem Bilingual Head Start on East 116th Street, attended by 70 enthusiastic local kids from ages 3 to 9. For many, it was their first time ever with a soccer ball.
“We taught the kids how to pass the ball. My first thought was, ‘You are Latino, how can you not know how to play soccer?’ but many of these kids come from households where soccer is not so popular,” explained Montoya. “I’m on a mission to convince parents that kids can learn soccer at an early age. The kids did not think they would be successful in kicking the ball but they were and everybody was very, very happy.”
Giving a huge thumbs-up was Anthony Rivera of the FAMILIA Program, connected with the Mount Sinai Medical Center and the American Heart Association. Anthony was there because heart disease disproportionally affects minorities in Harlem partly due to sedentary lifestyles and he hopes that getting kids to participate in a wonderful cardiovascular exercise such as soccer starting from an early age will help reverse this alarming trend.
The Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) contributed by donating tchotchkes (gifts, trinkets) for the kids. Everything worked out so well that more BAYSL clinics will be planned in Spanish Harlem in the future.
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 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 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 onto http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.