By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
January 4, 2017-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 17 reasons why over 100,000 New York children and teenagers are playing in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) in 2017:
1. State Open Cup. The State Open Cup begins with three games of group play in the first round. You have to be in it to win it as Massapequa Arsenal did by entering the Boys-Under-19 State Open Cup in 2015 and they wound up winning the prestigious McGuire Cup, emblematic of the national championship in that age group. Massapequa is now part of the historic legacy of the McGuire Cup, first awarded 82 years ago back in 1935.
2. Arch Challenge Cup. The Arch Challenge Cup also kicks off with three games of group play in the first round. Unlike the State Open Cup, you need not be the best team in the state to win the Arch Challenge 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 in 2013.
4. 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 the Eastern Regional League. ENYPL teams have two different options to play. For those who like the ENYPL traditionally just as it is, they can enter into “classic play” and the championship game finalists automatically qualify for the prestigious New York City Cup this summer. For those who want something slightly different, they can enter the ENY/EDP flight. An increased emphasis on local play occurs again in 2017 so teams from Albany do not have to regularly play opponents on Long Island and vice-versa.
5. ENYPL College Showcase. The inaugural ENYPL College Showcase was played on December 10, 2016 at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens. Unlike many other college showcases, it was free for all participants plus the kids received free Eastern New York shirts while playing in front of college coaches scouting the players.
6. Eastern Regional League. This league of the best teams from Maine to Virginia is split into three divisions and teams play set weekends of play in showcase style at selected events. How popular has the Eastern Regional League become? Well, approximately 500 Premier teams have applied for 2017.
7. Olympic Development Program. ODP is considered the highest level of competition in the state. Each year, players must be re-evaluated 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. Our 1999 Boys South ODP Team won the national championship last winter. Crystal Dunn and Allie Long are two Eastern New York ODP players who are playing on the US Women’s National Team 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.
Our ODP national champs, 1999 Boys South
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. Over 100 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. 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 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. Working to Prevent Player Injuries. Eastern New York is very pleased to prevent player injuries through the At Peak educational app that was provided to our over 100,000 players, as well as their parents and coaches. The app delivers strength and conditioning exercises and video workouts, specific to age, gender and sport, that are designed by medical professionals for youth athletes plus has a social platform where teammates can interact, upload photos, view sports-related video content and challenge one another in trivia contests.
12. College Scholarships. Every summer, Eastern New York awards 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 the Staten Island Youth Soccer League––all have separate scholarship programs as well.
13. 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.
14. 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 United States Soccer Federation (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.
15. SAT and ACT Prep Courses. Eastern New York provides exclusive, free access to acclaimed SAT and ACT prep courses from eKnowledge, which is normally a $250 value. These courses can be taken online or via DVD, which makes them ideal for our busy student/athletes.
16. Social Media. Besides our website, http://www.enysoccer.com, Eastern New York gets a ton of play on social media with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr sites.
17. A Long and Proud History. The Eastern New York State Adult Soccer Association was founded 104 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 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.