Greater Expenses, Far Less Participation

RIOC takes over and a once popular youth soccer program dwindles

Updated 20 weeks ago David Stone
Winning team celebrates at the end of the 2017 Roosevelt Island soccer season, managed by RIYP.
Winning team celebrates at the end of the 2017 Roosevelt Island soccer season, managed by RIYP.

"Nearly 200 children and youth are signed up and WE STILL NEED YOU….to join the Roosevelt Island Youth Fall Soccer League as a volunteer coach..." read RIOC's announcement. The date was October 1st. The season was scheduled to begin the next day.

If the inability to attract coaches wasn't troubling enough, the number of kids signed up clanged like a toneless bell.

Nearly 200 children and youth...

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At the end of soccer competition in 2017, the last before Charlie DeFino and the Roosevelt Island Youth Program were slammed out of business by RIOC, The Daily as well as the Roosevelt Islander and the Main Street WIRE carried glowing reports about a successful season.

The Roosevelt Islander went further, noting that when you counted participation in all RIYP programs, it was a record year for the 40 year old nonprofit institution. The WIRE included summaries from winning coaches, including RIOC Public Safety chief Jack McManus.

We contacted DeFino who summarized his reaction sarcastically, "They are a month late and serving about 30% and are now going to pay staff to coach. I would say 'great job.'"

How many kids did RIYP get involved in soccer, last year?

"450 youths 5 to 17, our last year," DeFino said.

That number was verified by independent contemporaneous reports.

We asked RIOC's Director of the Youth Program, Erica Spencer-EL and Vice President Shelton Haynes, "a release says you’ve signed up 'nearly 200' kids for soccer and are trying to recruit volunteer coaches. Can you give me the actual number of signups, not just the estimate, and how that compares to prior seasons?"

Neither answered.

But even the "nearly 200" claim is being questioned.

"There were about 25 players Saturday morning," a parent who was there told The Daily. "Maybe some came later, but a low turnout for that age group."

As of this writing, with the season under way, it's not known how many kids actually signed up, how many coaches volunteered or what they'll do without enough of them.

The signs aren't good, and RIOC, as is so often the case, is not talking.


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