By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
November 30, 2016-Many people play and watch football on Thanksgiving but in a couple of Nassau County towns, the holiday is also associated with fútbol as three Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) clubs with a long history in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) hosted Alumni Games that weekend.
Thanksgiving is utilized as people are home for the holiday and the weather is still conducive for outdoor soccer on Long Island. It’s a time to renew friendships and relive memories while kicking around a ball. With many players going to goal and paying little attention to defending, scores are sometimes in the double digits as the goalkeepers get a real workout.
The Oceanside United Soccer Club, founded in 1962, started the fun off on Thanksgiving morning when they played their annual Turkey Bowl at Oceanside Park. 50 players showed up and competed in two different games, including 84-year-old Alfredo D’Antonio, who won five Long Island Soccer Football League (LISFL) titles with Oceanside, Lynbrook and Glen Cove. Oceanside United has hosted the Turkey Bowl every year since 1990.
“All our history and camaraderie are the real reasons why people play this Beautiful Game and the fact is all these guys are part of our community and they still give back to the kids,” commented Rich Eisenberg, Oceanside’s Assistant Treasurer and longtime coach who played in the Turkey Bowl.
The Garden City Centennial Soccer Club kicked off play in 1969 and its name comes from its first year being the 100th anniversary of the Village of Garden City. Their Alumni Games began two decades ago with men playing plus a women’s game was added six years ago. 45 women and 22 men played at Garden City High School on Friday, November 25 while 56 men had fun at the same venue on Saturday, November 26.
Jimmy Connolly, Tom Gillian, Jim Haggerty, Rob Malhame and Bill Metzler ran the event for the club, which provided a blue or white T-shirt to each player. After the games, the players caught up with each other at Doc O’Grady’s in Garden City South.
Founded in 1971, the Rockville Centre Soccer Club is the youngest of these three clubs but has the oldest Alumni Games as they started in the mid-1960s when the graduates from South Side High School boys varsity team got together. The games, now named the Bob Livingstone Alumni Games, then evolved into a club-run event with women playing too.
Nowadays, a short mass e-mail is sent to graduates of the club letting them know about the upcoming games and reunion. It worked as 55 men and 12 women played last Saturday at Peter Bralower Field in the Rockville Centre Sports Complex. Each player received a red or white T-shirt. The women played at 12:30 pm, the “old guys” kicked off at 1:30 pm and the “young guys” played at 2:30, then there was an alumni party at Kasey’s American Grill in Rockville Centre.
The games were played in honor of Bob Livingstone, a longtime, living member of the community who was Club President, Board member, coach and Eastern New York Olympic Development Program (ODP) girls coach. Donations were given for the 22K Organization that supports mental health, particularly suicide prevention among veterans especially since Rockville Centre lost a club member in 2016 to suicide. The goal of the organization is a challenge to people nationwide to do 22 million push-ups.
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.