68th Precinct Youth Council celebrates a new season of soccer


It was another successful opening day for the 68th Precinct Youth Council soccer league as, on Saturday, September 12, hundreds of kids strapped on their shin guards and cleats, ready to welcome the new season with its annual parade, nearly 60 teams playing and appearances from elected officials.

“It was an excellent day,” said Donna Fathelbab, the soccer league’s co-commissioner. “The weather was good. The turnout was good and the kids had a great time. We had all of the divisions play on opening day.”

Much to the delight of the youth council, the popularity of the league has increased dramatically. “We have over 950 kids which is a record-breaking number for any organization, and we have a waiting list,” she said.

The league consists of five divisions based on age, including future stars, instructional, bantam, junior and senior. There are 63 teams in all and they will square off Saturdays and Sundays until Sunday, November 15.

Fathelbab believes that the league, now in its 60th year, means a great deal to the community due to its accessibility. “I’ve learned that if this league didn’t exist, a lot of children wouldn’t be able to play. The fees are at a minimal cost,” she said. “Many of the children wouldn’t have the opportunity if the 68 didn’t exist.”

Also to help alleviate costs, the youth council has launched its Cleats for Kids programs, which allows children and parents to donate the used cleats and shin guards that they can no longer use. “It has worked out so well,” she said. “We still have parents donating cleats. It’s just another cost-saving measure for people.”

Before the games took place, the annual parade was held as players and coaches marched from Seventh Avenue and 92nd Street to the soccer field at Poly Field. “The parade was great,” Fathelbab enthused. “Officers from the 68th Precinct always help us make sure it runs smoothly. They were there with us. We also had Councilmember Vincent Gentile and State Senator Marty Golden with us. They autographed soccer balls.”

“I was proud to join the 68th Precinct Youth Council on opening day for soccer. It is great to see so many kids on the field getting ready for a great season,” said Golden.  “I thank all the coaches and volunteers that make this program possible.  Not everyone will score a goal, but everyone will have a chance to learn the game, and build character.”

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