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Soccer star helps youngsters get kicks at Resorts World

The Aston Villa club poses with the Queens youngsters before soccer drills. Photo by Yinghao Luo
TimesLedger Newspapers

An international soccer star from across the pond landed in the city last week to help youngsters get their kicks in South Ozone Park

Championship midfielder Ian Taylor, of Aston Villa Football Club, stopped at Resorts World Casino New York to host a sports clinic with the South Queens Boys & Girls Club. It was the footballer’s second stop on a four-city trek through America, where he also called on Philadelphia, New York, Chicago and Portland to promote the sport and get youngsters off the couch and on their feet.

“I always look forward to working with kids and teaching them about football,” said Taylor, 44, who retired from professional sports in 2007. “Kids are always so enthusiastic about everything — having fun and playing the sport with them is just a blast.”

Close to 30 children from the club were brought to Resorts World by volunteers and Dennis Dwyer, a program director at the club, at 110-04 Atlantic Ave. in Richmond Hill. Dwyer said the youngsters were enthusiastic about making the trip to meet Taylor and spend the day soaking up his sports wisdom.

Dwyer went on to say the club sees events like this as an opportunity to expand the horizons of the boys and girls.

“We’re not just a neighborhood baby-sitter,” said Dwyer. “We want to serve the community and provide real value to families. The club is a place for the kids to go and be themselves — and we want to help them build a foundation and fulfill their potential.”

The kids did not have a problem smiling on this day, and neither did state Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park), who joined the event to see the enthusiasm and to thank Resorts World for allowing soccer to be played inside its facility.

And even though he admits he is not a huge soccer fan, Goldfeder said the values learned from the sport cannot be overlooked.

“It gets them out of the house, away from the video games, and gets them active,” said Goldfeder, who also said the Boys & Girls Club is one of Queens’ most valuable assets. “I’m especially happy to see this event take place at Resorts World. It shows that this isn’t just a casino, it’s become part of the fabric of the borough.”

The borough’s greatest asset of all, according to Goldfeder, is the boys and girls themselves. And such assets need to be taught the fundamentals of both life and soccer. To the soccer end, the boys and girls were led through rigorous soccer drills by Aston Villa’s top coaches, Joe Hunt and Matt Cecil, who taught the eager young athletes the basic fundamentals of the game, such as dribbling, passing and corner kicks.

Prior to the drills, some children asked Taylor questions about his playing days. Questions ranged from his favorite stadium to play in, his heroes growing up and the qualities one needs to succeed in a professional sport. Taylor, with a wide grin, told the future of Queens exactly what they need to do in order to succeed in sports.

“Always listen to your coaches,” answered Taylor. “And always wear a big smile no matter what you are doing.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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