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Soccer Great To Attend Hofstra Conference

An international soccer conference featuring the legendary Pelé is coming to the local area. Soccer as the Beautiful Game: Football’s Artistry, Identity and Politics is at Hofstra University in Hempstead through April 13.

“Pelé transformed and transcended the game of soccer,” said Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz. “While the world first came to know him for extraordinary athletic feats, his soccer career was, in many respects, simply a prelude to an extraordinary life of service as a philanthropist and advocate. He understands the power and responsibility his soccer legacy carries, and has used it to improve the lives of others.”

Members of the Long Island Junior Soccer League are invited to join the conference as a guest and at no charge on Saturday, April 12 at Hofstra University. Panels and discussions on Saturday will include experts in coaching, leagues and sports media and were designed with the soccer enthusiast in mind.

Visit the conference website at www.hofstra.edu/soccercon to see the panels for Saturday.

Representing the soccer world on Saturday will be Football Scholars Forum, dedicated philanthropic organizations, distinguished soccer journalists from the New York Times and Sports Illustrated, the former general manager of the New York Red Bulls Jerome de Bontin, and Cosmos COO Erik Stover.

On Friday, April 11 at 3 p.m., Pelé will receive an honorary degree from Hofstra for his humanitarian work and contributions to the sport. U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati will make remarks about the state of the game at 7 p.m. There are more than 100 speakers from Argentina to Zimbabwe, but many contributions will come from members of the Long Island Junior Soccer League.

Josefa Pace, who grew up playing for the East Meadow Hot Shots and the Oceanside Express of the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) and is the author of Shifts in Soccer Positionality: An International Symbol for Opportunity, Gender Equality and Peace, is a panelist of Gender, Poverty and the Public Good on Thursday, April 10 from 4:30 to 6:15 p.m.

On Saturday, April 12 from 2:45 to 4:30 p.m., the Coaches, Practictioners, Trainers Round Table features experts from Eastern New York including former U.S. men’s National Team player Chris Armas, who grew up playing for the LIJSL’s Brentwood Bandits and Hewlett/Lawrence Big Blue, plus with Eastern New York’s Olympic Development Program; Hofstra men’s soccer coaches Richard Nuttall, Gary Book and Ronan Wiseman, who all also coach LIJSL teams; Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association Public Relations Director Randy Vogt, who has officiated over 8,000 games; and Long Island Soccer Football League (LISFL) President Gus Xikis.

At the same time, the Soccer Journalists Round Table will be held and features Soccer Long Island Magazine Publisher Kevin McCrudden, who grew up playing for the LIJSL’s Northport/Cow Harbor United and Smithtown Kickers; and esteemed journalists Michael Lewis and George Vecsey, who have covered the local soccer scene for decades.

Then on Sunday, April 13 from 1 to 2:45 p.m., a youth soccer clinic organized by the Hofstra men’s and women’s soccer programs with the assistance of the LIJSL and LISFL will be held. At 3 p.m., there’s an unveiling of a commemorative plaque of Pelé and then at 5 p.m., the 2013 North American Soccer League champion New York Cosmos begin their title defense when they take on the Atlanta Silverbacks.