Fan reaction: Former soccer pro Bob Smith trains New Jersey youth

On June 21, 1978, my youth soccer team, the Hazlet Americans, took the field at Giants stadium in East Rutherford, NJ to play a friendly match against Franklin Lakes. Though this was only an exhibition, it was a tremendous thrill for us. After the game, we stayed to watch Bob Smith and the New York Cosmos play.

Smith was a true soccer professional back then. He was part of the United States National Team from 1973 to 1980. He played 10 years of professional soccer, including two years with soccer legend Pele on the New York Cosmos. In 2007, Smith was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame .

I met Smith in 2005 in Millstone Township, NJ. He was renting space at the Frogbridge Day Camp for his soccer training academy. My under-11 girls travel soccer team was training at his facility. We reminisced about that 1978 game at Giants stadium when my youth soccer team played before his New York Cosmos. We only talked for a few minutes, since he was busy training my daughter's soccer team. But I remember thinking what a nice, friendly and polite person he was.

The Bob Smith Soccer Academy continued to grow. In 2006, he moved his training academy to the Robbinsville Field House (153 West Manor Way, Trenton, NJ 08691). This beautiful indoor soccer facility boasts a full-sided field for 11 v 11 games. This field can also be sectioned into 3 smaller fields for 7 v 7 games. The turf is in excellent condition. For some added fun, music is played on the loudspeakers. Games, scrimmages and training sessions are regularly held at the field house. My soccer teams always enjoy playing here.

In the winter of 2011, my boys' soccer team participated in the indoor league at the Bob Smith Soccer Academy. This is a 7 v 7 league for travel soccer players. There are separate leagues for boys and girls. The league is managed very well. Games start and end on time. Referees are professional and courteous. But what I liked most about the league was the friendly atmosphere that Smith creates. You will often see him on the field checking equipment, talking to players and greeting coaches. He truly loves the game and wants to develop that passion in the people he meets. He has accomplished so much in soccer, but you wouldn't know that by talking to him. He is one of the nicest and friendliest people I have met in my years coaching soccer.

Edwin Torres has been coaching youth soccer since 2001. He is currently the head coach of two travel soccer teams in Freehold, NJ. He holds a category "F" license for coaching in the New Jersey State Youth Soccer Association. He has completed the USSF Entry level Referee course. Edwin is also certified as a Double-Goal coach through the Positive Coaching Alliance.

Sources:

Bob Smith, "About Bob Smith", Bob Smith Soccer Academy

RSSSF (karel@rsssf.com), "USA - Details of International Matches 1970-1979", The Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation

RSSSF (karel@rsssf.com), "USA - Details of International Matches 1980-1989", The Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation

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Updated Monday, Apr 11, 2011