LIJSL offers special children a place to play

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The LIJSL takes great pride in being the first soccer league to have a special children’s program, starting one in 1978. For nearly the past decade, the LIJSL Special Children’s Program has been affiliated with the Special Olympics.

By 1990 there were four LIJSL clubs with special children’s programs: the Huntington Boys’ Club, Massapequa, Plainview/Old Bethpage Highlanders and Sachem.

The New Hyde Park Wildcats Soccer Club was added in 1991, with the North Shore SC Special Children in the Glen Head area kicking off the next year.

There has been dramatic growth in the LIJSL Special Children’s Program during the past several years and now there are 14 special clubs from all over Long Island:

Garden City Centennials: contact Greg Petzold, 516-747-1816

Huntington Boys’ Club: contact Mike Ludin, 631-421-9344

Levittown: contact Bob Goodheart, 516-579-7948

Massapequa: contact Barbara Jacob, 516-795-3578

Mastic: contact Dennis Courtney, 631-281-6214

New Hyde Park Wildcats: contact Richard Bletsch, 516-328-3043

North Shore: contact Judi Allo, 516-676-8376

Oceanside United: contact Carlo Paravani, 516-764-5457

Plainview/Old Bethpage Highlanders: contact Ann Marie Toth, 516-694-3567

Rockville Centre: contact Jim Nesdill, 516-594-4416

Sachem: contact Al Esposito, 631-473-6691

Smithtown Kickers: contact Sue Rapp, 631-366-0849

Terryville: contact Dennis Lawney, 631-928-8693

West Islip: contact Ron Maginniss, 631-587-1873

Nearly 500 special children play in the LIJSL. The program’s slogan is “Come Play With Me.”

The highlight of the special children’s spring season is the Waldbaum’s Challenge games and barbecue, taking place Saturday, June 12, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Long Island Soccer Park.

Yet there are several challenges facing this program.

“Our biggest problem is fields, but I guess that we are like everyone else in this regard,” said LIJSL Special Children’s Chairperson Ann Marie Toth.

For more information about this labor of love, please contact Ann Marie at 516-694-3567 or

The Long Island Junior Soccer League is the world’s largest soccer league with 1,498 travel teams on Long Island and in Queens. There are nearly 100,000 in this area registered to play organized soccer when including the intramural leagues that feed the LIJSL plus men’s and women’s leagues filled with our graduates.

The LIJSL is a non-profit organization run by volunteers determined to make a difference by building character through soccer. In 1998 the league received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nassau County Sports Commission.

LIJSL sponsors are Bankers Life of New York (an AmerUs company), Kwik-Goal, Modell’s Sporting Goods, Nike, North Fork Bank, TOPSoccer and Waldbaum’s Supermarkets.

The LIJSL’s official Web site is, which averages 600,000 hits per month.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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