Jim Kelly directing a training session with Lansdowne Yonkers’ “Little Kickers.”
By Jay Mwamba
Lansdowne Yonkers were in a familiar position early this spring just before the Covid-19 pandemic brought the world to a screeching halt. U.S. amateur champions four year ago, the Bhoys were joint leaders in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League First Division, six points clear and pushing for a seventh title when all social and athletic activities globally stopped.
The CSL’s decision to scrap the season, left Lansdowne mulling what might have been.
With many pro leagues around the world having shown how soccer can be played in the Covid-era, the Bhoys are preparing their comeback in the CSL after a four-month layoff.
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“It’s really good to get back on the field at both youth and adult level,” said club president William McGrory. “Following all USA soccer-return-to-play guidelines, Lansdowne have completed four weeks of kids camps and three senior friendly games.”
Before that, director of football Jim Kelly, who holds a UEFA A coaching license, and technical/marketing director Johan Mauritzan, designed a virtual training program for players, making Lansdowne one of the first clubs to offer such a resource. There was a host of other online events to keep members active.
“We ran an Instagram live interview segment where Jim Kelly interviewed Irish sporting legends with the highlight being five-time All-Ireland winning Dublin coach Jim Gavin,” said McGrory.
“The club has been busy on other fronts to keep running during these difficult times,” the president added. “Like always, we had tremendous support from the community and our club board who always go above and beyond to help.”
Other novel new Lansdowne endeavors include the club’s new sports brand, “914 Sports” and online shop that offers a range of club gear. There’s also the cleaning company created to create employment for club members during these difficult times. It’s completed numerous jobs and has three full time employees. Visit www.lansdowneyonkersfc.com for more information about Lansdowne’s online shop and the cleaning company.
McGrory also noted new programs created by Mauritzan to offer school and collage opportunities for players. Another program, with Jim Kelly’s involvement, will give a chance to college players to train with the club. Lansdowne currently has 350 kids under its wings, approximately 22 travel teams, that should all be bac on the field in late September.
On Oct. 18, the club, which has nonprofit 501 c3 status, is scheduled to hold its annual golf outing at Van Cortland Golf. Visit www.lansdowneyonkersfc.com to participate or sponsor.
And in other big news, Lansdowne will this fall enter its first team in the newly established Eastern Premier Soccer League, a semi-professional and – by American standards — revolutionary set-up. It’s the first league States-side to offer promotion and relegation.
“The club board [is] very excited about this and welcome the national exposure that will come with it,” said McGrory.