By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
February 25, 2020-South Bronx United, a proud member club of both the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League
(CJSL) and Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
(ENYYSA), are the recipients of the 2020 Laureus Sport for Good Award. South Bronx United has been recognized by the Laureus World Sports Academy for their transformational work in supporting young people, and particularly immigrant and first-generation youth, living in some of New York’s most underserved communities.
The Laureus Sport for Good Award is awarded to an organization or individual who have used sport to reduce the impact of violence, conflict and discrimination, to enhance social and emotional development, to inspire healthy behavior change and to increase educational achievements and employability skills.
South Bronx United received the award on February 17 in Berlin, Germany from actor Hugh Grant and Laureus Academy Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick at the 20th Annual Laureus Sports Awards, which celebrated a "Sport Unites Us" theme. This year's award winners included the first joint winners of Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, Barcelona star Lionel Messi and Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, and Simone Biles as Laureus Sportswoman of the Year.
In Berlin to accept the award were South Bronx United co-founder and Executive Director Andrew So, and two inspirational participants who have directly benefited from the transformational work of the program. Mohamed Konate, 18, was born in the Ivory Coast to parents who had fled Guinea. He moved to the United States as a child, leaving some family members behind. In his eight years at South Bronx United, he has become a leader in the organization and his community.
Joining Mohamed in Berlin was another 18-year-old program participant, Maria Martinez. Maria emigrated from Mexico to the United States with her mother, in search of a better life and better opportunities. Maria is a player, a referee and training as a coach at South Bronx United. Both Mohamed and Maria are seniors in high school. With the support of the club, both have already received several acceptances to college and they plan to begin studying towards college degrees this fall.
South Bronx United was founded in 2009 on an idea that young people needed an engaging program to connect to and keep them off the streets, and that youth passionate about soccer should have a program in which to develop. Over the past decade, South Bronx United has grown in response to the needs of the community and the challenges facing youth. The organization now serves more than 1,200 youngsters annually, the vast majority of whom are from immigrant families. Its core program, the SBU Academy, boasts a 100% of its high school senior participants and a 94% college matriculation rate.
With approximately 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 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. 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.
South Bronx United player Mohamed Konate speaking with South Bronx United Executive Director Andrew So laughing next to him. All photos courtesy of South Bronx United.