Playing soccer is one of the most popular forms of recreation in the world. But for Federico, it’s much more than that. The 10-year from New York City has some big soccer dreams. He wants to play for AC Milan, a top team in Italy, and also for the Italian national team.
“I’ve been practicing soccer for eight years, and I want to be in the professional leagues,” he says.
Those goals might seem distant, but thanks to Super Soccer Stars he’s learning from people who have lived his dream.
Super Soccer Stars is a nationwide soccer program for kids of all ages. It specializes in personalized attention and quality instruction from former professional players, which gives its young athletes the best chance to improve their skills on the pitch.
The organization was founded in 2000 by Gustavo Szulansky. The Argentina-native was coaching in a New York City youth league that his son belonged to, and he discovered that the kids didn’t understand the basics of soccer. So he decided to create a program that would teach young players the game’s basics in a fun way.
His idea was an instant success. After starting in New York, Super Soccer Stars has expanded to the Northeast, Florida, Illinois, and California. But throughout the years, the mission has remained the same.
“The main goal is for each child to find their own voice in soccer,” Szulansky says.
Super Soccer Stars competitors start in the program as young as 12 months and can continue until their teenage years. Players who are more advanced can sign up for the Premier program, which places athletes in teams based on age and competes with other leagues.
Best of all, the kids learn from coaches who have competed at the highest level. Former top players like Errol McFarlane, who played for the Trinidad and Tobago team that made the 2006 World Cup, oversee the players’ improvement. And a few months ago, former Manchester United player (and David Beckham teammate) Mark Wilson signed on as director of coaching.
The young footballers appreciate their coaches’ understanding of the game, and their calm, patient instruction. Devin K., 12, of New York City, praised coach McFarlane for his coaching style.
“By treating us like professionals — not just like kids — it gets us a lot better and makes us more disciplined,” Devin says.
Creating the next great soccer players starts at an early age, and that’s where Super Soccer Stars helps. Szulansky knows that not every kid will want to play soccer. But for the ones that do, he wants to make sure they get the proper introduction to the game — and that they know it’s something that be enjoyed by anyone.
“I think (soccer) is a very great sport,” says Nya K., an 11-year-old member of the U11 Andromeda Premier team. “You can play it with anybody, no matter how short or tall you are.”
Visit the Super Soccer Stars website for more information on the organization and its programs, including its summer World Cup Kick It Camp!
Photo and video courtesy Soccer Super Stars