New Roots

[Photographs by the SBU Newspaper Club]

The following is an article from the upcoming issue of The SBU Press, a publication by the South Bronx United Newspaper Club.

By Ayouba Swaray and Mohamed Kourouma

Audrey Wong, has lived in the Bronx for almost 40 years and is passionate about nurturing the beauty of her borough. She is one of many volunteers who helps keep New Roots Farm in Mott Haven thriving. New Roots is a non-profit community farm managed by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) an organization that helps refugees all over the world.

Dena Garcia (left) and Audrey Wong (right) at New Roots Community Farm on April 29, 2015 in the South Bronx.

Audrey said, “about eight beds belong to refugees. Many of the refugees come from cultures that are agriculture based and so it’s gives them a connection to the new world that they are coming into.”

Audrey is a retired museum educator with Chinese and Jamaican heritage. She spent many years teaching youth at the Bronx Museum. She loved her work but was troubled that students seemed to have little hope for their futures. Some would tell her, “we are not going to live to the age of 18.” Audrey explained that if you get to know the Bronx through the media you would think it was a terrible place. The reality is, it is just painted with the wrong kind of brush. Meaning, that others describe it to be worse then it really is.

The Bronx has many wonderful landmarks like Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Zoo, the Botanical Garden, Fordham and Lehman College. Audrey said, “That’s what we need the young people to understand so they don’t internalize what the media says.”

With the assistance of her fellow gardener, Dena, Audrey plants things at New Roots that can be enjoyed by everyone. The farm is a point of loveliness that livens up the neighborhood and the passers by. It is just another reason why The Bronx is an exciting place to call home.

Posted in Ayouba Swaray, Mohamed Kourouma | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

SBU Academy Class of 2015 Commit to College

BRONX, NY – 21 SBU Academy Seniors have committed so far to colleges and universities across New York State.  Over the course of the school year (and often much earlier), students in the Class of 2015 worked hard with their senior mentors and South Bronx United staff to research, apply to, and gain admittance to a range of institutions, including private colleges and schools in the SUNY (State University of New York) and CUNY (City University of New York) systems.  In stark contrast to many of their peers attending South Bronx schools, over ninety percent of the 24 SBU Academy Seniors expect to be enrolled in college by October.  Students have committed to a variety of schools:

Nyamaa Abama, Bronx Community College
Daniel Agboba, Bronx Community College
Kevin Anchundia, Long Island University Post
Alseny Barry, St. Lawrence University
Carlos Blanco, Borough of Manhattan Community College
Mohamed Camara, Sarah Lawrence College
Brenda Casimiro,  Borough of Manhattan Community College
Sheku Conteh, SUNY Potsdam
Jeffrey Cordova, Clarkson University
Daouda DialloBronx Community College
Mouhamed Diouf, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Antonio Flores, SUNY Oswego
Kevin Flores, Long Island University Brooklyn
Evans Frimpong, The Sage Colleges
Jonathan Guzman, Hostos Community College
Beaufils Kimpolo-Pene, Loomis Chaffee School*
Samuel Koomson, Buffalo State College
Julieth Martinez, Borough of Manhattan Community College
Karla Ruiz, Long Island University Brooklyn
Ouyada Sango-Paca, Farmingdale State College
Estefani Sierra, Borough of Manhattan Community College
Tony Villegas, Alfred University

One student, Kimpolo-Pene, received a full scholarship and subsequently committed to complete a post-graduate year at a Connecticut boarding school, Loomis Chaffee School.

Guzman received a competitive Academic Achievers scholarship (supported by the Simon Bolivar Foundation) to attend Hostos.  Several of the students plan to represent their schools on the soccer field as well, namely Diouf and Camara who were recruitment to represent Hobart College in the Liberty League and Sarah Lawrence College in the Skyline Conference, respectively.

Additionally, several SBU Alumni have completed transfers to prominent institutions.  Aicha Fofana will be transferring to Franklin and Marshall College from City College of New York; Iyayi Imade will be moving to St. Lawrence University from ASA College; and Sarpong Adjei will start his Sophomore year at Sage College of Albany after finishing his first year at the NYC College of Technology.

This column will be updated as more seniors announce their college commitments.

Posted in Press Release | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

SBU Literacy Day: Bringing the Joy of Reading to the Soccer Pitch

BRONX, NY – Over 500 boys and girls attend South Bronx United’s Recreational Program at Macombs Dam Park and Mullaly Park each Saturday to play soccer.  On May 9th, they also had the opportunity to take home free books and experience the joy of reading as part of SBU’s annual Literacy Day.

In all, over 1,000 books were available to children and families to take home free.  This year’s donors included Scholastic, Penguin Random House, Better World Books, Candlewick Press, Abbeville PressThe Association of American Publishers, Kiwi Magazine, Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson Troop 1532, and several individuals.  The most sought after  items were books from the World Soccer Legends series, by Illugi Jökulsson, featuring superstars Lionel Messi, Neymar, Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alex Morgan, and the U.S. Women’s National Team.  These books were raffled off every hour.

Every player also sat down in a reading circle with their team prior to playing soccer.  Reading circles were led by SBU Youth Council members and youth referees.  All participate in the SBU Academy program and compete on one of several SBU travel soccer teams.  The youngest children listened to Soccer Star, a story by Mina Javaherbin (Candlewick Press) about a Brazilian boy from the Favelas who dreams of becoming a soccer star and his sister who helps win the game.  Boys in the Under-10 and Under-13 divisions read chapters from D.C. Freedman‘s U.K. based soccer series, Jamie Johnson: Born To Play.  Both sets of books were generously donated to the organization by the publisher and author.   Girls teams also had to chance to read excerpts from the Andrea Montalbano’s Soccer Sisters series and Mia Hamm’s autobiography, Go for the Goal. The Under-16 boys engaged in a spirited debate after reading a provocative article from the New York Times on the merits and morals of diving on the soccer field.

As for the significance of Literacy Day, SBU Youth Council member Gnim Bazim, 17, says, “It is especially important for South Bronx kids to read more because reading will help them see the world differently and encourage them to explore and excel in school.”

South Bronx United thanks all the donors and volunteers who helped make the event possible.  Contact info@southbronxunited.org for information on how to support future events.

View more photos from the event on the SBU Facebook Page.

[Photo Credits: Amanda Berg, Tenzin Yeshay]

Posted in Press Release | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

City Showcase Symposium Puts NYC Student-Athletes on the Path to College

NEW YORK, NY – On April 2nd, South Bronx United organized the 2015 City Showcase Symposium to kickoff the City Showcase weekend that also included a youth soccer tournament on Randall’s Island. The event, held at Baruch College for a second year, filled an auditorium full of nearly 300 high school soccer players, parents, coaches, panel speakers and representatives from various New York area college admissions departments and soccer teams, and even New York City FC’s goalkeeper Ryan Meara.  The symposium provided a platform for inner city students to gain exposure to higher education opportunities and the soccer recruitment process.

The evening began by giving students the opportunity to visit information tables staffed by college representatives providing important information on the admissions process, student life, and opportunity programs targeting typically student groups typically underrepresented in higher education.  In attendance were representatives from Baruch College, John Jay College, Sarah Lawrence College, the City University of New York (CUNY) Opportunity Programs, CUNY Athletics, and Growth Through Sport, a sports psychology firm.  Growth Through Sport, CUNY, and Baruch College served as sponsors for the event.

Students and parents also had the opportunity to network with several college soccer coaches, including Dan Solli from the Fordham University Women’s team, Mike Erdi of Villa College Men’s Team, Jorden Scott of Manhattan College Men’s team, and Ajani Clunie, Assistant Coach for John Jay College Women’s team.

CUNY Athletic Conference Executive Director Zak Ivkovic served as host for the evening’s presentation.  He introduced Meara, who currently plays goalkeeper for New York City FC on loan from the Red Bulls.  Meara received his Bachelor’s in Marketing from Fordham University where he was a four-year starter and conference Defensive Player of the Year.  He gave a motivational speech on his soccer journey, sharing the trials and tribulations he encountered to become a professional athlete while emphasizing the need for all students to earn their college degree.  Later in the evening Ivkovic emphasized that only 5.5% of high school players become NCAA intercollegiate athletes and just 1.7% of those go on to play professionally.

The college panel included a diverse group of speakers: Richard Alvarez, the University Director of Admissions for The City of New York; Jennifer Gayles, Director of Admissions and Coordinator of Multicultural Recruitment at Sarah Lawrence College; Kyle Graves, Men’s soccer coach at Morrisville State; Casey Summers, Women’s head coach for John Jay College; and Mr. Scott of Manhattan College.  The college panel was moderated by Scott Knight founder of andGo Sports, a firm that supports high school athletes through the college recruitment process.  Panelists offered extensive information, touching on topics that included school and major selection, admission process, and financial support. All coaches spoke of the challenges students face playing college soccer at the different intercollegiate levels.  Coaches never failed to stress the significance of doing well in college and earning a college degree is to the students.

Roberto Torralba was one of a few 8th graders present. “It was good information as I learned that it doesn’t mean necessarily mean that Division 1 schools are the best schools to apply to and there are a lot of other options. Since I’m entering 9th grade, it was good to get early information about the college process.”

The event underscored the importance and effectiveness in combining soccer with academics.  South Bronx United goalkeeper Tony Villegas, 17,  stated, “Being the first to go to college in my family is a very big deal; Soccer taught me discipline, taught me team work, helped me become the person who I am right now, and I never gave up and that is something soccer has a lot to do with.”

South Bronx students are looking forward to putting some of the panelists suggestion into practice in college.  Says Jeffrey Cordova, also 17, “College will change my life, I’ll get a lot more of opportunities, and become a better person.”

To learn more about the City Showcase, visit www.cityshowcasetournament.org.  A video recap of the event is available, courtesy of Adolfo Lee.

Posted in Carolina Estrella, Press Release | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

South Bronx United Given Funding Through Cityzens Giving

City in the Community soccer program in partnership with South Bronx United has received funding from Cityzens Giving, a charitable football initiative made possible by City Football Group, whose family of clubs include; Manchester City FC, New York City FC and Melbourne City FC.

The initiative, which is the first of its kind, gave tens of thousands of Cityzens (Club members) the opportunity to pledge $8 US dollars to six charity football projects across the world.  A $600,000 charitable fund has been split between projects in Cape Town, Kuala Lumpur, Manchester, Melbourne, New York and Barranquilla. Through the power of football, the projects will improve the lives of more than 2,000 young people in disadvantaged communities.

Gnim Bazim, 16, a member of the SBU Youth Council and project leader for South Bronx United’s City in the Community program said: “We are excited to start a program that is going to impact young kids health and education through soccer and encourage them to grow into leaders.”

Find out more information about Cityzens Giving and the other projects making a difference, at http://www.nycfc.com/community/cityzens-giving

Check out the video: Thank You, Cityzens!

 

Posted in Press Release | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

Alumni Spotlight: An SBU Family becomes NEAC Champions

With my fellow SBU Alumni and Morrisville State teammates, after winning the NEAC Championship. Top Row (from left): Carmel Addae, Philemon Appiah. Bottom Row: Michael Oyenuga, Julian Rodriguez, Jeffrey Hado, Jamieson McKoy, Yusuf Saunders, Karim Ouedraogo.

South Bronx United has always been my second family.  Spending four years at this soccer club led to many discoveries and opportunities which I have made the most out of.  I created lots of memories with my teammates and coaches on and off the field, which I will always remember and cherish.  Since I didn’t have the opportunity to play high school soccer, South Bronx United gave me something to talk about during my high school years.  In addition to playing soccer, we attended many events off the field.  My coach, George, also gave me the opportunity to intern with him at Columbia University Teachers College.  I continue to go back during summer and winter breaks.  On the field, George made me the player I am today, especially by inspiring me to play central midfield.  Looking at how far South Bronx United has gone and the direction its heading now, it is quite impressive.  Most of the luxuries the various teams enjoy now was not available during my early years at the club from 2009 to 2012.  However, we were content and made the most out of the little we had.

 

Playing with SBU in 2010

Graduating in 2012 was a bitter sweet moment.  Leaving the club wasn’t easy for me considering the fact that I saw everyone as a part of my second family.  But it was made easier as I thought through my final decision on where to attend college.  Through an annual South Bronx United College Showcase, I had caught the attention of Mr. Kyle Graves, the head coach of the men’s soccer at Morrisville State College.  Change is always bound to happen and I embraced it deciding to continue my education and soccer career at Morrisville.

College education is significantly different from high school and I was up for the challenge. I went into college as an Individual Studies major, even though I had in mind that I wanted to pursue business administration.  I felt that Individual Studies would give me a feel of how rigorous the courses will be for at least in my first year.  I had little knowledge on the difficulty level of the classes, but my major concern was how I would adapt to the life of living hundreds of miles away from home in a small town.  One fellow SBU senior, Karim Ouedraogo, came to school the same year I did. Another, alumnus Carmel  Addae, had already been in the school for a year.  We went from a large SBU family to one of only three, but together we would explore and have an experience in Morrisville.  Having met a couple other boys from Ghana, my hometown, I quickly settled down and became more comfortable being on campus. Carmel had told me what to expect in terms of the campus, but it was up to me to become familiar with everything once I got there. With the help of Coach Graves, I had little difficulty and two weeks was all I needed to become familiar with the classes and professors.  Most of my classes were small, which I preferred, but I also had two lecture classes.  Being a student athlete, I had a lot of responsibilities on and off the field so I made sure I stayed on track with each one of my classes. Knowing that I would be traveling to and from games, I made sure I did my work ahead of time in case I had to miss a class or two during the season.  Time management was vital and I believe I managed my time well.

Education has always been the main focus but what kept me going was the game I love to play.  Getting the opportunity to play soccer in college inspired me to work harder on and off the field.  The most important thing was working hard during my first pre-season and getting into a better shape.  Since it was a very short preseason, a lot of work had to be done in a short period of time.  It was definitely a struggle but I pushed through every practice. Hard work got me into the starting line-up my freshman year, and I never looked back.  Day in and day out I worked hard to become better knowing there was always room for improvement. That year, for the first time since joining the North East Athletic Conference (NEAC), we made it to the conference tournament championship game.

My second year was not very different but more competition joined in the team. Another member from SBU, Philemon Appiah was a great addition to the squad. During the 2013 season, I improved on my game compared to the year before. All four of us worked hard and once again made it to the tournament championship game for the second year in a row.  This time we fell short to SUNY Institute of Technology who had two of my former SBU teammates, Bazo Coulibaly and Christstely Mbongou. Losing on penalty kicks was not easy to handle but as the saying goes: You win some and you lose some.

In the summer of 2014, I dedicated time to go to the gym to stay in shape. South Bronx United’s summer mini-league helped me improve on the attacking aspect of my game. We practiced tactics, having in mind that our formation was going to change that upcoming season to a 4 back system instead of the regular 3 we played the first two years. Though I still played as a defensive midfielder, I was going to have two great center backs/brothers that have played together all their lives and were outstanding at the back playing behind me.  I decided to add a little bit more attacking to my game.

As a result, 2014 was my most successful year since I came to Morrisville.  On the soccer field, I accomplished a lot individually and the team as a whole had our best season, despite a 1-0 loss in the NCAA tournament to powerhouse Messiah College, the defending NCAA champion who had only lost four games in six years.  I was named to the all-conference first team for the first time.  As a team, we made it to our third consecutive conference tournament final.  This time we ended up winning, bouncing back from the painful defeat a year earlier.  We were fortunate to host the NCAA Division III tournament competition for the first time ever and went on to win our first round match.

Another special part of the season was having four other SBU members join the team.  Together we created more memories on and off the field and worked really hard for the team.  Two of the new freshman, Julian Rodriguez and Jamieson McKoy earned well-deserved Second Team All-Conference recognition, while Jamieson went on to be recognized as the Most Valuable Player in the NEAC tournament.  The three of us received numerous other players of the week honors as well.  A third freshman, Yusuf Saunders had the game winning penalty kick to send us through to the second round of NCAA.  To add to this, fellow junior and SBU Alum Karim Ouedraogo received a coach’s award for being a monster at the left of defense.  Michael “Femi” Oyenuga, Carmel Addae and Philemon Appiah also were important contributors throughout the whole season.

Next year will be my last season playing for Morrisville State College and it will be another bitter sweet moment once again.  Five key players will not be returning next year but I still believe we will be strong enough to compete with the best in the conference. Our freshman class from 2014 is a special group that contributed greatly to our success and through hard work, will help us continue to dominate the league. Already with my associate’s degree in business administration, I am now pursuing a bachelor’s degree which will be completed in 2016.  I plan on interning this summer with hopes of preparing for a full time job after graduation.  After that, I plan to complete a Masters Degree in Business Administration.  But I still only have much of my journey in front of me.

Jeffrey Hado is a Junior at Morrisville State College.  He was a member of South Bronx United and the SBU 93 Sonics from 2009-2012.


Posted in Featured Articles, Jeffrey Hado | Tagged , , | Comments Off

My First Semester of College

Dear Seniors,

College is a lot different than high school, no matter where you go, but especially if you decide to go away from home like I did.  So far, I have been able to adjust to the environment and overcome every challenge.

My first semester of college at the Rochester Institute of Technology required a lot of hard work.  This is one of the first things you’ll notice.  The workload will be heavier and more intense than you have ever experienced.  The major challenges are the large volume of reading, the short deadlines, and the writing, writing, writing!  What I had previously learned from South Bronx United at tutoring and from high school has helped me manage my time and assignments.  So I suggest you pay close attention to everyone who is trying to help you.

On some of those long, seemingly endless nights of studying and writing, it will be only natural for you to fall asleep in the library or a study room. These down periods always pay off on testing days. Every minute of your time counts in college, so you should always be looking to get something productive out of it.  On the other hand, you’ll be making a lot of new friends. It’s always exciting to discover how wonderfully diverse college relationships can be. Socializing in college is part of doing well and succeeding. Having a great connection with professors and classmates means getting a helping hand when core classes start to get harder throughout the semester.

Aside from academics there are also extracurricular activities that college offers.  The Rochester Institute of Technology offers students more than 300 active clubs and organizations.  I’m currently part of the Latin American Student Association (LASA) holding the executive board position as Freshmen Representative. Also, I’m part of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) as a National and Local member. By being part of these established organizations, I was able to build networks and gain professional experience.

Conferences and banquets through these organizations have been new learning opportunities for me.  South Bronx United helped prepared me by having symposiums and local talks about specific subjects.  My first engineering conference at college was held in Detroit, Michigan. The conference offered students opportunities to get internships for current students and full-time jobs for graduates. The conference was mostly for sophomores and older. I was the only freshman from Region Four to have the chance to attend.

I was also excited to continue playing soccer for fun.  I decided to join an intramural soccer team, and the season turned out to be awesome. My team was co-ed, and together we came in third place.  Because of academic commitments I missed some games, but our outcome was pretty good. Even though intramural athletics do not fall under the intercollegiate level, my team still required a lot of practice, dedication, and effort to play.

College is incredibly difficult, but it gets one ready for the real world.  For me, college life means working hard, being active on campus, and discovering what career you want to pursue.

Sincerely,

Guibel Marino
Freshman, Rochester Institute of Technology
South Bronx United Class of 2014
SBU-PlaySoccer2Give 2014 College Scholarship Recipient

Posted in Guibel Marino | Tagged , , | Comments Off

4th Annual Benefit Raises $54,000 for South Bronx United Youth Programs

Alumni Speaker Aicha Fofana with SBU social worker Samantha Norris

BRONX, NY – South Bronx United held its 4th Annual Benefit at the Midtown Loft and Terrace in New York City on Tuesday, November 11th, raising $54,000 in net proceeds.  100% of the funds raised will go towards sustaining and expanding the nonprofit organization’s youth development programs that combine soccer with mentoring, academic enrichment, college prep, leadership development, and support services.

The evening was kicked off by emcee Jared Max, a multi-award winning sportscaster and talk show host currently be heard on WCBS-880 and read on CBSnewyork.com, and featured speeches from Board Chairman Dave Hahn and South Bronx United’s Executive Director and Co-Founder Andrew So.  However, the star of the night was alumni Aicha Fofana who currently attends the City College of New York.  Aicha was born in Sierra Leone in the middle of the nation’s civil war.  Her family fled to Guinea where Aicha lived until moving to the Bronx in 2008.  She joined South Bronx United and the SBU Rising Stars in 2011.  Aicha graduated this spring valedictorian from Bronx Latin High School .  This fall, she began her first semester at City College thanks to $4,000 from the South Bronx United College Scholarship to support her tuition and expenses.  The scholarship is awarded every year by the organization’s scholarship committee to deserving graduates.

South Bronx United's 4th Annual Benefit was held at the Midtown Loft and Terrace in New York City

Over 200 guests attended the event, which was sponsored by Dos Toros Taqueriathe Bronx Brewery, Two Sigma Investments, and InterFysio LLC.  Numerous other businesses and institutions contributed to the evening’s success.  A live and silent auction featured teams donated from New York City FC, the New York Yankees, Relish Caterers, the Late Show with David Letterman, and more.

South Bronx United has served community youth since 2009 through its mission of using soccer for social change.  Currently over 600 boys and girls participated in programs that help youth build character, teamwork, and leadership so that they can succeed in high school, college, careers, their community and beyond. Among South Bronx United’s goals are the promotion of educational achievement, health and wellness, and character development through activities on and off the soccer field and to unite a diverse group of individuals and an incredibly diverse community toward common positive goals.

Video:  SBU Youth Impact 2014: Aicha

Posted in Press Release | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

South Bronx United to host 4th Annual Benefit on November 11th

BRONX, NY –  On November 11th, South Bronx United will be holding it’s 4th Annual Benefit at the Midtown Loft and Terrace in Manhattan (267 Fifth Avenue).  The event will raise funds for South Bronx youth programs in education, mentoring, social services, and soccer that serve over 600 children in the community.  Doors open at 7 pm.

The evening will feature presentations from the organization’s Executive Director and SBU alum, Aicha Fofana, the most recent recipient of the SBU College Scholarship.  Thanks in part to the scholarship award, she currently attends the City College of New York.   The participation of several sponsors highlights the evening.  Dos Toros Taqueria will sponsor a full taco buffet, the Artuso Pastry Shop sponsors dessert.  The Bronx Brewery, one of two businesses brewing beer in the Bronx, returns as well by contributing to the open bar.   A silent and live auction, both crowd favorites, will liven up the evening and feature items from New York Yankee tickets to a Maine vacation to a private team coaching session with former US Men’s National Team captain and 2013 honoree Claudio Reyna.  Radio personality and former ESPN 98.7 host Jared Max will serve as the evening’s MC.

All proceeds from the evening go towards South Bronx United youth programming. The organization’s mission is to help youth build character, teamwork, and leadership skills so that they can succeed in high school, college, careers, their community and beyond, and to united a diverse group of individuals and an incredibly diverse community toward common positive goals.  South Bronx United also does significant work with immigrant youth and the immigrant community as a whole.   At the benefit, the organization will be celebrating and sharing its considerable growth over the past year along with the significant results it has seen in enriching the lives and expanding outcomes for youth participants. In the past three years, 100 percent of seniors in the program graduated high school and 92 percent have enrolled in college. In comparison, the graduation rate in the South Bronx overall is just 56 percent.

Tickets for the evening start at $100, with $200 partner tickets including gift bags.  75 percent of the ticket cost is tax-deductible. Full details are available at www.sbusupporters.org/benefit.  Businesses interested in sponsoring or advertising or individuals interested in reserving group seating should inquire by emailing benefit@southbronxunited.org or calling Brendan Davis at (718) 404-9281.  South Bronx United is thankful for the generous support of sponsors Two Sigma Investments and InterFysio who have help make the Annual Benefit possible.

Posted in Press Release | Tagged , | Comments Off

U17 Boys Columbus Cup in Review


by Kevin Anchundia

The 2014 Brooklyn Italians Columbus cup is a tournament where all soccer clubs around the country are invited to compete. South Bronx United 97 Strikers have been playing in this tournament for the past three years and this year we were lucky enough to join the tournament once again. South Bronx United 97 Strikers history in this tournament hasn’t been good.  Our overall record is 3-0-3.

On the first day we arrived to the tournament, our focus was singular.  We needed a win; it was as simple as that.  In the locker room, my teammates and I had our game faces on.  We knew if we played around we wouldn’t accomplish our goal.  As we were ready to leave the locker room and warm up for our first game, our new coach was ready to say his first speech to the team. Everyone was excited to hear it!  Coach Andrej made a powerful speech that inspired us.  For the first time it was nice seeing me and my teammates warm up together as a unit and organize. The warm up made a difference on the pitch. The first game we played was against Commack SC Academy.  The team played well but not as well as we wanted to.  The first ten minutes of the game we were playing awful on the pitch and Commack was taking advantage and attacking high. Commack had a few opportunities but couldn’t put it away and we got very lucky.

Warming up for our first game

Then we changed the game around and started attacking and playing better until half time.  Both teams looked even on the pitch.  We had good opportunities but couldn’t finish.  At the start of the second half, we played the best football that day.  We kept the ball moving from the middle to the wings and with one-two touches controlled the game pretty well.  In those 15 minutes, we got two goals which gave us the lead. The two goals were special to the team because they were goals which came from Ebenezer and Daniel, two of our newest players.  With 20 minutes left in the game we got too comfortable, which led to us giving up a goal.  Commack got momentum going which forced us to play more defensive.  Finally, the whistle was blown, and we were happy with the result.  We played as a team and supported one another.

On our second day of the tournament, the team had an early morning game, with a 10:50 am kickoff.  We woke up early and meet up in front of Yankee stadium at 8:00 am. Meeting each other in one place before every game is something our teams are known for. Waking up three hours before our morning game is standard, as we usually take the subway to our games. For our second game we took a van. We still had to wake up early just in case there’s traffic or any delays.

As our team headed to our second game, we knew we needed another win to have a better chance to advance to the next round. We all knew the team we were facing wasn’t going to be easy.  Met Oval was our opponent, and we had played them before in the league. We have a history of us playing Met Oval in the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League, but not since we were in the Under-14 division, when we finished second place behind them.  We still had confidence in each other that we would win.

Both teams attacked back and forth, with lots of fouls and good scoring opportunities in the first half. Met Oval opened the game with a goal in the latter forty minutes. We were down one to zero; we still fought through the game and try to even it out. Met Oval scored again in the second half with 10 minutes left. We manage to get a goal with five minutes left, with a lay off from our tall striker, Mamadou Traore, to attacking midfielder Brandon Paniagua, who shot outside the box into the top left corner. In the last five minutes we  pressured the ball. Met Oval played more defensive and held on until the final whistle was blown.  Despite the loss, we played well and had fought hard through 70 minutes of play.

 

Preparing before our final game

On our third day of the tournament, we knew we needed a win, in order to advance to next round either as the winner of our group or the best second place team.  We were ready to play our third game of the tournament, when we heard that a second place team from a different group, Toronto Lynx (of Canada), had won 5-0.   This meant we could would need to win by six goals to finish as the best second place team on goal differential.  Assuming Met Oval won its last game, this presented a huge obstacle.

At game time, it was South Bronx United Strikers versus Synergy Football Academy of Vermont. We started dominating the game in the first 20 minutes just moving the ball around, testing their goalie, making good runs.  Then Synergy started pressuring the ball, which started to turn the game.  But right when they started pressuring, we scored a goal off a fast break before the half time to go up 1-0 on a nice goal by Ebenezer Asante.  We came back stronger second half.  In the first 15 minutes we got another goal which led to Synergy to start playing poorly and gave us an advantage.  Then later on when ten minutes were left, we scored another goal which gave us a 3-0 lead. Our team became too confident and started making silly mistakes, which led to a goal from Synergy. At the end of the game the result was 3-1.   We took the win but didn’t advance.  The game went well for us almost throughout the whole game, until we made a mistake which allowed them to score which made things our goal more difficult.

Overall, the South Bronx United Strikers 97 worked and played as a team finishing with a 2-1-0 record.  We learned how to win and lose as a team. We also got a chance to showcase to some college coaches which was a big opportunity. Even though we didn’t advance we learned new things from this tournament that we can use to become a stronger team in the future.  I know that for me some things I can improve in is my speed and long passes. I realize that if I can improve in these things, I would become a stronger player over time.  I know my teammates learned things as well.  After this tournament, I believe the team can win the season this year.  Perhaps we can even make it to the state cup finals.

Posted in Kevin Anchundia | Tagged , , | Comments Off