Developing Champions

Inspiring passion and a love for the game of soccer – that’s what the Long Island Rough Riders Champions program is all about!  The club has been focusing a lot of attention on the younger ages in recent years with the hopes that this next generation of youth will develop a passion for soccer and the values and skills that can be fostered in a team environment.

“After several years of coaching and seeing where the needs are at the higher levels of college and professional soccer, it was clear to us that there can be a great impact at the earlier ages in terms of skill development and psycho-social development”, said Meghan Frey, a Rough Riders Executive Manager and current youth coach.  She added, “we have found that by emphasizing the fun in sport, teaching skills through engaging games, and also integrating important character skills in a team environment, children are more likely to continue being active in teams sports and develop a more well-rounded social and psychological approach to situations.”

The Champions program is a great opportunity to introduce sport and the idea of “team” to children at a very young age.  Dr. Lauren Gallagher is an elementary school psychologist and youth soccer coach here on Long Island.  She believes programs like the Champions are important for young children:

“Team sports is the ideal medium for developing social skills because no matter how good any one individual is, the success of  a team will ultimately be determined by how well the individuals on that team work together.  Children are never too young to begin developing ‘team-thinking’ skills.  In my experience, when team-related concepts and ways of thinking are presented in an engaging and developmentally appropriate manner, there is nothing young children can’t learn.”

The Jr. Rough Riders Champions program is offered year-round for boys and girls ages 5 & 6 as a preparatory stage in the progressive Rough Riders team-based youth model.  The program is designed to provide fun, exciting, yet challenging skill training as well as appropriate game play at a critical age for a player’s soccer development.

Involvement in the Champions developmental program has been fun and enjoyable for players, coaches and parents alike.  Debi Yadegari is a parent of one of the young Champions players and has found the program to be very beneficial for her son Evan.  “Rough Riders offers a level of play that is not readily found in most programs at the young ages.  Rough Riders teaches through drills, yet somehow they make it fun and the kids love it.  My son, who does soccer three times a week with three different soccer programs LOVES Rough Riders.  He is always proud and excited to go.  Even my five year old can recognize that playing with Rough Riders is a step above his other weekly soccer classes.”

The fun and dynamic environment the Champions program provides is contagious and provides both the coaches and players with some great positive energy.  The next 10-week season of the Rough Riders Champions program kicks off on January 9th & 10th at Globall Sports Centers.  The season includes 10 progressive training sessions and optional tournament-style festival events.  Feel free to stop in at our November 8th tournament festival to see what it’s all about!

For more information about the Long Island Rough Riders Champions Developmental Program visit