Two members of the Valley Stream Soccer Club have been honored by the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association for their continue work in developing programs and expanding the reach of the sport to youngsters in their community.
Azzedine Layachi was named the 2016 TOPSoccer Coach of the Year, while Jennifer Graham was named ENYYSA’s 2016 Volunteer of the Year.
The honor bestowed on Layachi is for his work in helping start Valley Stream’s TOPSoccer Program, which is designed for children with special needs. A search for a program for his son, who has special needs, took him to a neighboring Long Island Junior Soccer League club. It was there that Layachi gained the knowledge on running a TOPSoccer program.
In nominating Layachi for the award, Tim Graham, president of Valley Stream Soccer Club, wrote, “At the kick-off event, we had nearly 25 participants come down. Each child received a T-shirt and a soccer ball and the event was a huge success. The program meets every Saturday, even in the winter. Azzedine plans all the activities and continuously promotes the program by going to schools to distribute information.“
Graham continued, “Azzedine puts 110 percent in everything he does as a board member and also by coaching multiple teams for the Valley Stream Soccer Club. Our TOPSoccer program has been a tremendous success with him in charge. We look forward to building the program and having more children succeed. With Azzedine helping to guide them, we know our children are in the best hands.“
The roots of TOPSoccer are traced back to Eastern New York and its largest league, Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL), when the Huntington Boys Club and Massapequa Soccer Club separately started programs in 1978.
Graham’s award comes after several years of involvement in the Valley Stream club. A former LIJSL player, she started volunteering as a parent when her oldest daughter began playing at the Micros level. Her time as a coach evolved into her election to the club’s Board of Directors.
In the four years Graham has been a board member the club’s registration has increased exponentially from 400 to more than 1,000 players. She is now Valley Stream’s First Vice President and Intramural Coordinator.
In nominating Graham, Valley Stream club Secretary Erica Mitchell wrote, “Jennifer is the glue who holds our club together and it is so incredible how effortless she makes it look. Parents feel comfortable and confident talking to Jennifer. She makes every single player and parent feel welcome and that they are important and valuable members of the soccer club. It seems like she cannot go anywhere in the community without being recognized.“
Layachi and Graham will be formally honored by Eastern New York at its Holiday Party Sunday, December 4, at Marina del Rey in the Bronx.