September 17, 2013- 2013 is a year of milestones in New York soccer. The Eastern New York State Adult Soccer Association is celebrating its centennial as it was founded in 1913, the same year that the United States Soccer Federation was founded in New York City. The New York Referees Association held its 75th anniversary celebration in April.
The Cosmopolitan Soccer League (CSL) is celebrating its 90th anniversary and the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League (CJSL) is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. The leagues are once again joining forces with an Anniversary Dinner-Dance on Friday, November 1 at the Astoria-World Manor in Astoria.
Although the CJSL is the most historic youth soccer league in the United States and by far the oldest soccer league in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA), the CJSL has a new leader as First Vice President Dimitrie Draguca was elected President. Draguca takes over for Eastern New York Soccer Hall of Famer Burt Wilkes, who was CJSL President for seven years before not seeking another term in office.
"We look forward to working with Dimitrie in his new role as President of the CJSL, an extremely important youth soccer league in the history of American soccer which has sent many players on to professional soccer," commented ENYYSA President Richard Christiano. "At the same time, I am delighted that Burt will continue to serve the kids of Eastern New York in his role as one of our Vice Presidents."
Draguca is well-versed in the CJSL as he volunteered as First Vice President for three years and was on the Board of Directors for a total of six years. The Middle Village resident is of Romanian heritage and his parents emigrated to the United States from Banat, Serbia in 1969 and he was born shortly thereafter.
"I’m a product of the CJSL, I grew up playing in this league with B/W Gottschee," said President Draguca. "I remember going to tournaments where we were not only proud to represent our club but we were proud to represent the CJSL. It’s that feeling that we will bring back to our member clubs."
Draguca’s "real job" for the past 20 years is working as a physical education teacher at PS/IS 119 in Glendale. He also coached boys soccer for 10 years and girls tennis for five years at Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood.
When he served as Travel Soccer Director from 1997 to 2009 for Asphalt Green in Manhattan, their teams were playing in the CJSL and now play for another ENYYSA-affiliated league, the Westchester Youth Soccer League (WYSL). He somehow finds the time to currently serve as Registrar and Travel Scheduler for the CJSL’s Downtown United Soccer Club and referees high school games within the five boroughs of New York City after previously serving as a college referee.
One of Draguca’s goals is to increase girls soccer participation in New York City.
"Starting this Fall Season with the help of current clubs, we look to host one or two girls soccer festivals for Under-8 to Under-11 at various locations within the city. Where we will be setting up small-sided games between teams, no score keeping, no win-loss records, just fun and games. There will be no charge for these festivals, we want to create a fun day for all and spark interest in the league and hopefully this can grow into something."
"With the addition of some new members on the board, new clubs signing up and a renewed sense of excitement among the existing clubs, we are looking to change and implement new things from within," commented President Draguca. "Our Select Program agreement with the New York Cosmos, the planned girls festivals and some changes we have in store for the spring concerning league play are just the start of this."
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 12 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.