By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
March 30, 2021-There are many wonderful volunteer coaches in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) and today we celebrate Emmanuel Nneji of the Kingston Area Soccer League.
Manny first became involved in soccer as a boy growing up in Nigeria. He explained, “Playing soccer was the only thing kids my age did and wanted to do. All the boys swamped the field at recess to play, and then it was the thing to do after school when chores were completed.”
Manny came to the United States in 1980 to attend college at SUNY New Paltz. He got into coaching after moving back to New Paltz in 1989 after law school as a former college teammate asked him to help a group of kids who wanted to play soccer but did not make any of the existing recreational teams.
“The kids got a hold of my soul and I have not let go more than 30 years later.”
The now Kingston resident is currently coaching the Girls-Under-16 Kingston Warrior Eagles in the East Hudson Youth Soccer League (EHYSL). This is the first time in over two decades that Manny is coaching only one team as he coached both a boys team and a girls squad until the pandemic.
The other most recent teams he coached were the Kingston Warriors (girls) and the Kingston Cannons (boys). Manny was honored as the 2009 EHYSL Girls Coach of the Year.
"The Warriors were exceptional for me. Their team had been abandoned with their ‘top players' joining another club across the river. They cried for a mistake when we started out; they did not want to play certain positions because they did not want to make any mistakes. They were afraid to play the game that made them happy and brought them together with their friends. They started to come around as our first season progressed and, instead of losing 7-0 each game it became 5-2 or less. Celebrated a tie in the last game of the first season and never looked back from there, they won East Hudson’s Division 1, the Metro League and back-to-back Challenge Cup championships. The Warriors were a great group of girls, athletes, students and human beings––the ultimate accomplishments of any youth sport.”
About his current team, Manny says that the Warrior Eagles "are catching their stride in the love, fun and enjoyment of the game. Their individual and team confidence continues to grow, and I have to do all I can enable them to reach as far as their individual and collective vision will take them in soccer and its fun, as well as in life.”
And all this love of soccer and his players is in addition to his position as a prosecutor in Ulster County.
"My job as a volunteer soccer coach is also a real job for me, and I dare say it’s even more serious in the grand scheme of things, because of the direct interaction and impact a coach can have on a kid, especially during such impressionable stages in their lives,” Manny concluded.
With approximately 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 nine 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. For more information, please log on to https://www.enysoccer.com/