North Bergen’s Recreation Department held its annual Soccer Awards and end-of-year-barbecue for its 47 youth soccer teams on June 30. The event was held at Bruins Stadium in Braddock Park.
The roughly 1,100 players, ranging in age from 6 to 16, play 470 soccer games per season. Each season runs from April to June. Registration opens in January.
The department also separately oversees boys’ and girls’ traveling teams, which compete against other soccer teams throughout the county and elsewhere.
Though each player received a participation award, three teams that won the championships in their respective divisions will receive trophies at a later date. For Division 1, comprised of 14-, 15-, and 16-year-olds, Team Eagles won the division titles.
In Division 2, made of 10-, 11-, and 12-year-olds, Team Junior earned all the glory. And for Division 3, made of 8-, 9-, and 10-year-olds, Team Olympia took home bragging rights this season. The soccer department also has what is called “The Clinic,” a separate training camp for 6 and 7-year-olds to teach them basic skills.
At the awards ceremony, the team members took pictures with Mayor Nicholas Sacco and enjoyed some barbecue and pizza on the town.
“This is just a ‘thank you’ for all the kids participating throughout the year,” said Joe Binetti, director of soccer recreation. “They’re looking forward to getting their participation trophy at the end of the year.”
“It just keeps growing every year.” – Hugo Cabrera
Has grown quickly
“I’m proud of how well it’s been developing over the years,” said Sacco, who briefly stayed for pictures with the kids before returning to Trenton amid the impending state shutdown, which took effect hours later. (Sacco is also a state senator.) “It’s very well supported by the parents.”
Parks and Public Property Commissioner Hugo Cabrera said that the end of year event has exponentially grown in its 10 plus years.
“It just keeps growing every year,” Cabrera said. “Back a couple of years ago, it was only a couple hundred kids. Now it’s close to 1,100.”
Of the program, he said, “It’s incredible. We don’t know how big it’s going to get. Every year we have to try and figure out new ways to schedule all the games because we have to add more teams.”
“It’s just a great program,” Cabrera said. “Credit to the staff, all the volunteer coaches, and the parents.”
Volunteer Coach Fabio Rocha, who successfully coached the Eagles to their division title, reflected on their accomplishment at the ceremony. “It feels good!” he said.
Soccer, Rocha added, “keeps the kids involved. It keeps the kids out of trouble.”
Rocha, who has been a volunteer coach for around nine years, also played in the Recreation Department under Binetti at one point.
For more information on how to register a child for the upcoming season, contact the recreation department at (201) 861-9601.
Hannington Dia can be reached at email@example.com