By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
May 30, 2014-The Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) prides itself on the sportsmanship of our teams, players and coaches. Our largest league, the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL), uses the slogan of Building Character Through Soccer which comes from its Sportsmanship Program, founded in 1980 by now US Soccer Life Member Rocco Amoroso, and copied around the world during the past 34 years.
Two shining examples of this sportsmanship occurred in LIJSL games recently. The Girls-Under-11, Division N6 game on April 26 between the Syosset Avengers and Wantagh/Seaford Dynamo in Woodbury looked to be a mismatch as Syosset only had seven players show up that day due to other commitments and Wantagh/Seaford had 11. Teams in that age group play 9 vs. 9. But Wantagh/Seaford coach Brian Crowley fielded seven players at kick-off and kept seven on the field the entire game in their competitive 3-1 win.
In a Boys Under 14, Division 5E game on May 17 at Moriches/Don Santorelli Soccer Park in St. James, the home team Smithtown Jaguars had only 10 players able to make their team’s game against the Cold Spring Harbor/Huntington Falcons.
Yet Cold Spring Harbor/Huntington, having a full squad in addition to substitute players, took the field with only ten players.
“As a manager and a parent of a player on the team, I realize that in 10 years, most of these children will have moved on to adulthood,” wrote Smithtown parent Bruno Valenti in a letter to Smithtown Kickers club president Pat LaManna. “Most will not receive scholarships, nor play for a professional soccer team. They will not remember scores, but will have fond memories of the fun times and life lessons learned along the way. Cold Spring Harbor coach Steve Lerner taught one of those important life lessons that Saturday on the playing field. He taught the lesson of sportsmanship, kindness and showed a display of humanity that is often not celebrated enough in our culture today.”
What’s even more remarkable to this story is that Cold Spring Harbor/Huntington lost the game, 3-0. Some coaches might have made the gesture early, but changed the game plan once things started going poorly but the Falcons kept 10 players on the field the entire match.
“Our boys recognized this gesture and admired it,” Mr. Valenti added. “I am sure (Coach Lerner’s) team learned a lesson as well. Although losing the game, the Cold Spring Harbor team walked away as winners in other ways and should keep their heads up high under the leadership of Coach Lerner and his display of sportsmanship that day.”
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.