By Graciano Clause
Assemblywoman Nily Rozic kicked things off when she announced her partnership with Hempstead’s professional soccer club the New York Cosmos to offer free soccer clubs at P.S. 120 in Flushing Queens.
On Feb. 11 Cosmos players teamed up with Rozic in the school’s gym in Jamaica, Queens. More than 30 students showed up for the session where they were able to participate in soccer activities while also learning the importance of physical education. P.S. 120 has gone through many changes in the last couple of years under the new principal Principal Robert Marino, who got together with Rozic to put a stronger emphasis on physical fitness education to the school. That motivated Rozic to contact the New York Cosmos and set up a partnership right in the heart of Queens.
“I am proud to team up with the New York Cosmos to bring free soccer clinics to P.S. 120 so that students can further their learning and development outside of the classroom,” said Rozic. “As budget cuts continue to programming in NYC school areas such as the arts, foreign language, and physical education, it is important that we invest in alternatives that make these vital resources available to our local communities.”
New York’s 25th district includes Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Hillcrest, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens, Bayside and Douglaston. Rozic said that the 25th Assembly district is waiting on $43 million in terms of services and resources from New York State. For those who are not familiar with the New York Cosmos they are the reigning champions of the North American Soccer League (NASL). They have captured their second league title in three seasons and seventh overall on Nov. 15, 2015.
“They are a great New York sports team and I’m a big soccer fan,” said Rozic. “I think having the New York Cosmos with everything they stand for right here in Flushing with a diverse and active community seemed like a natural alignment.”
Cosmos’ Midfielder Danny Szetela highlighted the importance of promoting physical education.
“I think the most important things for these kids is to have fun,” Sztela said. “I’ve been playing professionally since I was 16, I’m 28 years old now. Once you stop having fun then you lose your motivation,” Szetela said. He mentioned that he grew up in Jersey where he had gym almost everyday and emphasized that sports is one of the best ways to stay healthy. “Sometimes during the school hours you don’t want to learn math and it gets frustrating listening to your teacher, but when you have that hour to go and play with your friends in gym class you free your mind.”
The free soccer clinic session taught the students valuable skills while being informative and active.
Principal Marino said he was ecstatic about being involved the successful event.
“When you have something like this where the Cosmos are willing to come in and donate their time and resources to expose children to soccer during a meaningful event, it’s something that can spark a path towards a hobby, sport, or even a career,” Marino said.
Marino said that before coming to P.S. 120 he came from a middle school which is a 6th, 7th, and 8th grade setting.
“I see that students that came from schools that valued physical education, not only adapted better to our physical education curriculum seemed to be more respectful than children who had not been exposed to organized sports,” he said.
The final clinic in this succession will be on Mar. 2 at P.S. 120. For more information on upcoming clinics and the Cosmos, you can visit NYCosmos.com