Sal Rapaglia Named Recipient of 2006 Werner Fricker Builder Award
Eastern New York State Amateur Soccer Association President Honored
for Leadership and Dedication to Soccer in the United States
Chicago (March 11, 2006) – Eastern New York State Amateur Soccer Association President Salvatore Rapaglia recieved the 2006 Werner Fricker Builder Award on March 12 at the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Annual General Meeting in Las Vegas, Nev. Rapaglia was recognized for his pursuit to foster the growth of soccer in the United States, particularly in Eastern New York.
The Werner Fricker Builder Award is presented annually to an individual or individuals who have worked tirelessly in furthering the interest of the sport of soccer, without regard to personal recognition or advancement.
“I was a friend of Werner Fricker and Werner Fricker was a great man for soccer,” Rapaglia said after winning the award. “When you are young, you try to emulate someone, you have a hero. Werner was my hero for many, many years, so I’m very proud to receive this.
“The other candidates, I'm sure, they deserve this, too,” Rapaglia added, in between posing for pictures with family and friends. “Probably, in years to come, they will be awarded this. It's a nice feeling.”
Rapaglia began his soccer participation in the United States at the age of 15, when he moved to the U.S. with his mother and four of his 10 siblings. He began to play soccer in local youth leagues, later moving on to adult leagues in New York. After playing, Rapaglia coached and eventually moved to the administrative side of the sport.
After becoming Recording Secretary of the Italian-American Soccer League, Rapaglia moved up the ranks until he became league president in 1975, at a time when the league boasted 40 teams and a youth program. In 1979, he stepped down as president of the IASL and became president of ENYSASA, a position he still holds.
Rapaglia was nominated for the award by ENYSASA Secretary General Peter Pinori, who didn’t inform Rapaglia of his nomination until after entering his name.
“He was perfect for that award,” Pinori said of Rapaglia. “If you’re in New York and you mention soccer, you have to mention Sal Rapaglia.”
Under his guidance, the ENYSASA developed Offerman Park – a plot of land used for waste and abandoned cars and appliances – and turned it into a 10-field soccer complex known as Verrazzano Park that includes one lighted field.
“Once the season starts, he spends more time at that complex than at home,” Pinori said. “Every time I call him he’s at the fields, whether it’s helping the guy move dirt, move rocks, water the fields. He’s always there.”
Rapaglia was selected for the award unanimously by the Werner Fricker Task Force.
“It was felt by the committee that Sal Rapaglia represents the award’s description in developing soccer opportunities in the Eastern New York Area for players of all ages, youth and adult,” said Werner Fricker Task Force Chair Marge Madriago, who is also Vice-Chairman of the United States Adult Soccer Association. “Werner Fricker would be proud.”
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