25 years ago, ODP won the Aberdeen Football Festival
New York Soccer News: The team came from behind to win all their tournament games
The U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (ODP) has a long history and it’s the highest level of play in each state association. The geographic area of the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) is so large that ODP is divided into North and South teams.
25 years ago in July 1995, a Boys-Under-12 ODP North team made up of players who live north of New York City traveled to Scotland to play in the Aberdeen Football Festival, an experimental 7v7 tournament. THE YANKS ARE COMING read a headline in an Aberdeen newspaper and the team became a toast of the town, touring castles, going through a maze, meeting the Lord Provost plus professional players, and even visiting a local jail. The team was led by head coach Cesare Maniccia and assistant Dave Bundy.
“The Scots did not expect us to be that good. Three of our players were scouted by three professional teams and, I believe, they talked to their parents in trying to convince them about enlisting in their youth academies,” Coach Maniccia recalled.
“I did not think that the Yanks could play football.”Remark made at the award ceremony on July 22 hosted by the City of Aberdeen by the Master of Ceremonies — who was obviously impressed with the ODP team from the USA
Upon arrival, Eastern New York ODP arranged a friendly with a local team that placed second in the region. Although Eastern New York lost, they learned a good deal.
“Our first problem was the goalkeeper position. None of the keepers on our team could make the trip and so we picked one of the field players, Neal Keating, who performed superbly in goal,” Maniccia stated.
In a period of five days, Eastern New York ODP played a total of five games. The boys were behind at halftime in every game, the coaches made halftime adjustments and they wound up coming back in all five matches to be undefeated and become Aberdeen Football Festival champions.
Read: NEW YORK YOUTH SOCCER ODP TEAM WINS CHAMPIONSHIP
“Dave and I were very impressed with the high level of community involvement. Our games were very little attended at the beginning, but the presence of spectators kept increasing with each game,” Maniccia concludes.
“The Festival community was hugely impressed with the high level of our games and we received many compliments.”Cesare Maniccia
The City of Aberdeen went out of their way to make it a memorable experience. The climax of the week was the Award Banquet which included a sit-down, four-course meal followed by a Festival video that included highlights from each of the 24 older teams plus the Eastern New York ODP squad.
Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association: With 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) reaches 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.