Peter Collins, former president of the Long Island Junior Soccer League, passed away Friday night at the age of 86 years.
Collins, the League's president from 1977 to 2004, was the preeminent, driving force who helped promote, popularize, and organize youth soccer on Long Island.
Prior to Collins being elected as President, nine different individuals presided over the league during the league's first eleven years.
Always a volunteer, and never salaried, the LIJSL flourished under Collins' guidance.
For his hard-earned efforts over 27 years, he saw the league's registered number of children quadruple in size with teams growing from a few hundred to nearly 1,500 together with a large expansion of member clubs being formed all over Long Island.
The League eventually grew into the largest youth soccer league in the nation.
Despite accolades Collins regularly received, he would sincerely deflect that recognition and credit the league's expansion and development to the thousands of every-day volunteers who, over the years, helped the league take off and expand.
Collins had a unique way of communicating with people and recruiting them to become youth soccer volunteers. He was skillful with a very persuasive talent, making people feel that they were really needed to help and to perform good deeds for kids. Rarely, did it seem, that anyone would say no to Collins, and when the answer was yes, he clinched the deal by saying, "God Bless." So, how could anyone say no to a Peter Collins request?
Collins was Irish-born, and though he arrived on Long Island in 1957, he always maintained his Irish brogue, but he'd be sure to let you know that he was 100% American. Indeed, he founded his own local youth teams early on under the banner name, Hicksville American Soccer club. Collins worked for the Long Island Lighting Company for more than 30 years as a welder.
While President, Collins and his volunteers developed special programs including TOPSoccer, the LIJSL Exceptional Senior Games, the LIJSL Annual Convention, and the creation of international tournaments abroad and on Long Island with Long Island youth teams playing against teams from Russia, Italy and Ireland.
Collins gave much credit to a colleague and friend, Rocco Amoroso, who passed away in 2016, for starting the LIJSL Sportsmanship Award in 1980.
With a lack of exceptional soccer fields available to service the ever growing league's number of games, Collins helped in 1997 to create in Plainview a twenty-two acre soccer facility with pristine fields which have been dedicated to Collins bearing his name, The Peter C. Collins Soccer Park
For his leadership, vision and accomplishments, Collins was inducted as a USSF life member and is also a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame, the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association Hall of Fame, and the LIJSL Hall of Fame.
In somewhat of a surprise announcement, Collins at the end of 2003 said it was time for him to move on, that the League needed new blood with fresh ideas, and that it was his time to step down as president of the LIJSL.
words by Dave Birnbaum, BOTN