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Soccer dad: Gridiron coach stole field • Brooklyn Paper

Soccer dad: Gridiron coach stole field

Two youth soccer teams allege they were not permitted to play at Charles B. Wang Field despite holding a permit.
The Brooklyn Paper / Craig Dilger

The city is investigating whether to discipline a high-school football coach who allegedly kicked two youth soccer teams off a city-owned field two weekends in a row.

The disputed turf, Charles B. Wang Field, is Brooklyn Technical High School’s state-of-the-art soccer and football field. It sits adjacent to PS 753, and has been used by local sports leagues for years without incident.

That changed on May 12, when Jim DeBenedetto, varsity football coach for Brooklyn Tech, allegedly told the two youth soccer coaches to vacate.

“He came out at about 9:15 am or so, and told me we would have to leave the field by 9:45,” said Bob Byer, who runs Fort Greene Sports. Byer, who was coaching a group of 6- and 7-year-olds in soccer, said he had a permit for the field.

“I said, ‘Coach, we’re going to be finished by 10 am. Give us 15 minutes or so, and we’ll be out of your hair.’ And he said, ‘No, I need to get started earlier than that.’ Then he turned and walked away.”

Byer said he followed the coach into the adjacent school and confronted him about his “piss-poor attitude,” after which the coach launched into a tirade.

Then, according to Byer, the coach came out with his high-school football players and tried to intimidate the 6- and 7-year-old soccer players. When Byer wouldn’t budge, the coach allegedly tried to force another youth soccer league, Young Rock Soccer Academy, off the field.

The following Saturday, when Byer showed up to play, his team was locked out. So was Musa Kadiri’s, who runs the Young Rock Soccer Academy.

“They’re trying to deny the little kids access to the field,” said Kadiri. “To me, that’s sad.”

Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) agreed to mediate the dispute and on May 16 issued a statement saying that a protocol for use of the field had been agreed upon.

Under the agreement, Brooklyn Tech has priority during scheduling conflicts, but local leagues do have the right to use the field.

It remains unclear whether the protocol will resolve the dispute.

“I do not agree that the agreement has been reached,” said Byer. “I am considering legal action to prevent these bullies from ruining the only recreational outlet for the neighborhood.”

The Department of Education would not comment for this story. Neither would DeBenedetto.

“The incident is under investigation, and we cannot elaborate without compromising the investigation,” said Marge Feinberg, an Education spokeswoman.

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