By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
The name Rocco Amoroso is synonymous with sportsmanship.
The Sportsmanship Program of the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) was the brainchild of Rocco in 1980 and is the first program of its kind––not just in the world of youth soccer, but in youth sports. Rocco had become concerned when he saw a lack of civility on the playing fields. As the LIJSL grew, there was a movement within the league to remain focused on its mission to develop mature adults and responsible citizens through the lessons of teamwork and fair play. The goal was to Build Character Through Soccer, a sentiment that comes from the Sportsmanship Program and continues to be the league’s slogan and mission statement to this day. With this in mind, Rocco wrote the guidelines, secured initial sponsorship of the program with the Sports Billy Organization, and tirelessly promoted the program within the growing LIJSL membership. He stressed the important role that sportsmanship plays in the development of players.
Referees submit sportsmanship ratings online after every game based on the cooperation of players, coaches and spectators, overall game conduct and player appearance. Winning teams in each division are honored at special ceremonies and wear a sportsmanship award patch on their uniform––the only patch LIJSL players may wear on their uniform other than their club patch and American flag.
In 1983, Congressman Thomas Downey entered the name of the Long Island Junior Soccer League into the Congressional Record, mentioning the program’s slogan of Building Character Through Soccer. Rocco’s Sportsmanship Program guidelines have been adopted by the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) and American Youth Soccer Organization. The Rocco Amoroso Sportsmanship Trophy is now given annually at ENYYSA's State Open Cup and Arch Capital Group Challenge Cup finals and the Rocco Amoroso Sportsmanship Cup is given annually to men’s and women’s teams in Eastern New York. In addition, the principles of the program have been incorporated by leagues in Ireland and China.
“Rocco’s emphasis on sportsmanship changed the fabric of youth soccer in New York, throughout the United States and indeed in other parts of the globe, for the good of the game and the development of the character of its players,” commented ENYYSA President Richard Christiano. “Soccer would not be the same disciplined sport today without Rocco’s profound influence.”
Although Rocco is the Sportsmanship Chairperson for ENYYSA, his involvement in soccer goes beyond Fair Play. He is also Chairperson for Eastern New York’s Hall of Fame Committee as well as a member of ENYYSA’s National Hall of Fame Committee. For all this volunteering, the Melville resident and native of Abruzzi, Italy was inducted into the Halls of Fame of both Eastern New York (1998) and the LIJSL (1982). And New York Mens-Over-40 teams compete annually for the Rocco Amoroso Cup.