Cosmos soccer clinic out of this world

Play it forward: Lara Ciner of Manhattan gets ready to show off her skills at the New York Cosmos back-to-school soccer clinic in Park Slope on Sept. 16.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

These kids kicked for the stars.

Youngsters from all over the city huddled up at Washington Park in Park Slope on Sept. 16 to get schooled by soccer pros at a back-to-school clinic put on by the New York Cosmos pro team. The clinic gave pint-sized athletes the thrill of playing with the big dogs while also teaching them to work together, a spokesman for the Long Island team said.

“This was an opportunity for them to get together and learn ways to succeed through hard work and teamwork,” said Rafael Morffi, director of marketing for the Cosmos.

Tykes in attendance ran drills with Cosmos coaches and trainers, as well as with Cosmos player Stefan Dimitrov, a forward from Bulgaria who stuck around afterward to sign autographs.

Here’s the kicker: Leos Jollon of Red Hook toes a ball at the clinic.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

The World Cup has come and gone, but Morffi said soccer is seeing a renaissance in the United States, which he dates back to the 1994 World Cup that was held in nine cities across the country, including Giants Stadium in New Jersey.

“Compared to the 1980s and the early ’90s, it’s been a quantum leap,” he said.

The Cosmos started playing last year as part of the North American League, which formed in 2009 when teams broke away from the United Soccer Leagues. The Cosmos currently play at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, but they are trying to get a stadium built beside the famed Belmont Park Race Track.

The team resurrected the Cosmos name held by the earlier team that played from 1970 to 1985, rocketing to fame in 1975 with the signing of legendary Brazilian player Pele.

Go team, go: Trainer Stephen Hoogerwerf gives kids a pep talk.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhuro‌witz@‌cnglo‌cal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz

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