The Staten Island Youth Soccer League (SIYSL) will soon have a home of its own. SIYSL Vice President and Field Committee Chairperson Rob Libertelli made the big announcement during the SIYSL’s 12th Annual Awards Dinner and Hall of Fame Ceremony on January 11 at the Staaten. SIYSL will build its fields on almost 10 acres in the area of Oakwood Beach.
Libertelli told a gathering of 300 that the league, with the help of local politicians plus lawyer and former Family Court Judge Ralph Porzio, was given land in the Hurricane Sandy-ravaged section of Oakwood Beach, where homes once stood.
“It is Staten Island Youth Soccer League’s land for the rest of our lives,” said Libertelli. “Did you ever think this was going to happen? Thanks to this Board, thanks to our friends, the Staten Island Youth Soccer League will have a home of its own!”
Depending on the size of the fields, SIYSL President Bill Smith is hoping to have room for three full-size fields and possibly two small-sided fields. They will be natural-grass fields as “it would be too risky to put in turf and have another Sandy event wipe away millions of dollars,” said Smith.
“I’m so happy that this all happened under my guidance with the current Executive Board,” Smith explained. “They made it all happen. They stepped up. Everybody wanted to see this. I can’t wait until the ribbon is cut for the fields.”
More than 5,200 players currently play in the SIYSL, the southernmost league in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA).
“It’s a three-phase process,” explained Libertelli. “First, some of the area still has to be decommissioned by the state. Then everything has to be transferred into the name of the Staten Island Youth Soccer League. Then we can go from there and try to get grants and other money to start to build the fields.”
State Senator Andrew Lanza’s office was instrumental in making this all happen.
“We’ve been working on this with Senator Lanza for more than a year as well as the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery,” said Libertelli. “The state wanted to give the land to the city, but someone told the state about the Staten Island Youth Soccer League and that we have no official home and when they found out we were a non-for-profit organization, they thought it would be a good idea to see if we can work something out.”
Smith said the other playing sites the league uses will still be needed, but to a lesser extent.
Smith concluded, “Having our own fields will help us with scheduling and not waiting for other fields to open up for the season. We have the luxury of doing some things we wouldn’t have been able to do before.”