From left to right: ENYYSA Hall of Fame Chairperson Ken Gulmi, SIYSL President Bill Smith, Joe Licata, ENYYSA President Richard Christiano
By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
December 19, 2017-The Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) is pleased to announce that longtime volunteer Giuseppe “Joe” Licata was inducted into the Eastern New York Hall of Fame during our Holiday Party on December 17 at Marina del Rey in the Bronx.
Our honoree developed a love of soccer early on in life in his hometown of Porte Empedocle, in Agrigento, Sicily. He played everywhere he could, including the beach and the streets, when he wasn’t on the field. When he was 12, he began playing for Ragazzi dell'Empedoclina, a local youth them. At 18, he competed for Prima Divisione and impressed everyone with his technical and strategic skills plus goal-scoring ability. When not on the field, Joe found time to acquire his degree in Ragioniere & Perito Commerciale (as a CPA).
Joe immigrated to America at the age of 26. His love of soccer continued in Brooklyn on the Italian-American Soccer League team Fiorentina. The highlight of Joe's local playing experience was a game he played at Downing Stadium on Randall’s Island in front of 40,000 screaming fans. Soccer legend Pelé was featured in the second match and Joe remembers running up to the great Brazilian player and congratulating him after he scored a goal for the Santos team.
Joe and his family moved to Staten Island in 1974. At that time, soccer was virtually non-existent on the island, and in 1976, he founded the St. Patrick’s Soccer Club. Before that, the only soccer club on the island was Silver Lake of the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League (CJSL). Over the next decade, St. Patrick’s grew to unexpected proportions, and in 1979 consisted of 27 teams, 65 coaches, and 350 players.
St. Pat's became the first league to initiate an all-girls team. Over 800 supporters celebrated at the bi-yearly award dinners and often included American soccer celebrities as guest speakers and award presenters. In addition to his work with St. Patrick’s, Joe was considered one of the founding fathers in 1978 of the Staten Island Youth Soccer League (SIYSL) that presently boasts more than 6,000 youth players of all ages and nationalities. The girls’ soccer program on Staten Island is currently one of the best in the state.
The highlight of his soccer volunteering occurred in 2002 when he and wife Anne used their Wall Street contacts and fluency in Italian to fulfill an invitation by the Italian government for a Staten Island Boys-Under-17 team to play in a tournament in Agrigento named “The World In Sicily.” The New Yorkers turned heads by finishing in second place and Joe received a Humanitarian Award. Over their long career, the Licatas also took youth soccer teams to tournaments in Canada and across the United States and they were the first husband-and-wife team to be inducted into the SIYSL Hall of Fame, with Joe being inducted in 2008 and Anne in 2010.
In 1997, Joe retired from his full-time position as a Foreign Exchange Broker and was once more lured back to the soccer field as a referee and league consultant. He held ref certification badges for the New York State Public and Catholic Schools as well as for US Soccer. In the summers, Joe taught youngsters in a soccer sponsored by the Police Athletic League of New York.
After 35 years of service, Joe is very happy to see all he helped create for the youth of Staten Island continue. His love of soccer and of young people continues, and he hopes the early soccer seeds he planted will grow for many years to come.
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 on to http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.