Flipper kick: Coney sea lions play soccer with the pros

Flipper kick: Coney sea lions play soccer with the pros
Photo by Steve Schnibbe

Meet Coney Island’s newest soccer stars!

Two 500-pound sea lions dispelled the myth that soccer is only a game for landlubbers when they showed soccer players from the New York Cosmos a few tricks they learned at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island on Oct. 30. The flippered pinnipedia displayed serious skill, despite having no legs — hitherto considered the sport’s most essential appendage — Cosmos players said.

“They were both really good,” said Cosmos midfielder Jimmy Mulligan. “If I was 500 pounds, I wouldn’t be able to do anything.”

Bruiser and Osborn aren’t fleet-of-foot on land, but they used their flippers to deftly passed the ball back and forth with Cosmos players Mulligan, forward Kharlton Belmar, midfielder Hagop Chirishian, and goalkeeper Keasel Broome.

The marine mammals’ most impressive trick, however, was catching flying soccer balls on the tip of their whiskered muzzles and balancing them there before expertly tossing them back with a flick of their noses.

The sea lions, being consummate professionals, performed before an audience of about 60 aquarium patrons and earned themselves a tasty fish, courtesy of their trainers, with each successful pass.

Bruiser, the younger of the sea lion duo, did a great job, but wasn’t quite as skilled as his more venerable blubber buddy — Mulligan described him as “up-and-coming.”

“He’s going to be good,” he said.

The Cosmos were making waves with Bruiser and Osborn in preparation for their championship semifinals match against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Coney Island’s MCU Park on Nov. 7.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Sea smooches: Oscar had so much fun playing with the New York Cosmos that he gave forward Kharlton Belmar a big, wet smooch on his way out of the New York Aquarium.
Photo by Steve Schnibbe