Argentina–born soccer enthusiast Gustavo Szulansky opened Super Soccer Stars to provide the boroughs with a program that championed the personal development of youngsters rather than solely a skill-based focus. Since its debut in 2000, it's grown throughout the city, helping countless youngsters learn teamwork, boost confidence, and decrease arguments during home games played on the dining-room table. This rapid growth is due in part to the positive values Gustavo instilled from the first class. His coaches are carefully selected for their ability to cultivate a noncompetitive, sensitive approach to learning the game, and they dole out their knowledge in both classes and camps.
Super Soccer Star's Kick & Play program features family-friendly classes that help tots 12–24 months old develop pre-soccer skills and physical skill sets simultaneously. During classes, a team of talented and enthusiastic instructors and an athletic duo of puppet friends named Mimi and Pepe buoy budding soccer players with positive reinforcement, individual attention, and the merry clickety-clack of cleated tap dances. Designed with the help of early-childhood specialists, each age-specific class helps players build skills at their own pace with positive reinforcement, individual attention, and engaging original music.
Owner Doug Gatanis and his business partner Zach Rubin both spent years playing soccer as youths, but it wasn’t until the pair met through a local soccer coach they realized their mutual plight: there were no serious soccer retailers operating in New York. That simple motivation has led to Upper 90 Soccer and Sport, the Upper West Side’s premier soccer outfitter and home of all things futbol. The store opened in September 2009 and has quickly expanded to two other locations, with the original Amsterdam Avenue location stocking all manner of soccer footwear, equipment and apparel, including professional team jerseys. Upper 90 even boasts flat screen TVs that constantly show games, and invites their regulars to grab a chair to catch the action themselves.
If you want to learn the differences between soccer and futsal, you won't find a better classroom than Westchester Futsal. Throughout the year, the non-profit organization—which is sanctioned by the United States Youth Futsal organization and affiliated with the United States Soccer Federation—hosts seasonal camps, private lessons, and tournaments to introduce youngsters to both sports. On any given day, the organization's experienced coaches can be seen teaching the traditional 11-on-11 format of soccer or the quicker paced 5-on-5 format of futsal, which is popular in Brazil and with foosball figurines that want more shots at the ball.
Winston Buddle, founder and director of Golden Touch Soccer, has worked with thousands of young soccer players over two decades of coaching—including his son, Edson, an MLS All Star. Winston's own career began in Montego Bay, where he was a feared striker at every level he played. That success snowballed into an impressive professional career in the U.S., Greece, and Cyprus. Since trading in his cleats for a whistle, Winston has helped transform youth soccer players into Division I athletes, regional and national stars, and potential Olympians. Students soak up his wisdom during camps, classes, and one-on-one training sessions, during which Winston not only teaches them skills and techniques, but also the game's strategic aspects, ensuring they'll be able to navigate the field like a young Napoleon.
Inside Uptown Sports Complex's 16,000-square-foot facility, the cracks of baseball bats, the beats of hip-hop dance classes, and the rallying cries of cheerleaders combine into a constant, energetic din. The complex gives visitors of all ages plenty of outlets for their energy, such as baseball and gymnastics training camps for youngsters and Zumba dance classes for adults. Kids' classes typically take place after school and during the summer; check the class schedule for current class offerings.
The best way to learn a sport is to actually play it. To that end, Speed Soccer's coaches have devised a four-stage training regimen built around helping youngsters and preteens perfect their technique in game-specific situations. These drills are introduced during year-round camps and training programs, which are specifically tailored for casual players looking to master some new skills as well as for more serious competitors hoping to learn how to kick a ball into low orbit. Whether Speed Soccer's coaches are working with individuals, small groups, or an entire team, they do their best to provide personalized feedback that helps attendees refine their all-around game while also instilling values of good sportsmanship and personal responsibility.