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05-04-06, 09:58 AM
CUNYAC (City University of New York Athletic Conference) announces roster for Summer Goodwill Soccer trip to South Africa
May 3, 2006

The City University of New York Athletic Conference Wednesday announced the roster for this summer's Goodwill Soccer Trip to South Africa.

The trip will take place from July 24- Aug 6.

The roster consists of players from each of the conference's 10 senior and five community colleges.

The trip is the fourth annual trip after similar tours in men's basketball (Dominican Republic, 2003), women's basketball (Ecuador, 2004) and women's volleyball (Argentina, 2005).

The CUNYAC Goodwill trip will enable the student-athletes to bring a taste of New York diversity, both in soccer and culture, to Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa - the nation set to host the 2010 World Cup.

"We are thrilled to be able to take this group of student-athletes on an educational trip of a lifetime," CUNYAC commissioner Zak Ivkovic said. "Aside from playing friendly games, we are excited to conduct a series of clinics for kids and learn about the South African culture, history and scores of languages while spreading good will from all New Yorkers."

The team will be coached by Osborne Carter (City College of New York) and Kennichi Yatsuhashi (Manhattan Community College), the winning coaches of the CUNY senior and community college soccer championships, respectively, this past season.

The player roster:

Goalkeepers: Michael Giordano (Brooklyn College), Kafui Kouakou (York College).

Defenders: Roger Gonzalez (CCNY), Dave Lovercheck (Hunter College), Clint McGregor (Medgar Evers College), Thomas Murdoch (Baruch College), Jhonny Osorio (Queensborough Community College), Dukens Riche (York College), Garfield Thomas (Brooklyn College).

Midfielders: Jonathan Guenzatti (Queensborough Community College), Caner Yilmaz (Baruch College), Hirofumi Takeuchi (John Jay College of Criminal Justice), Alberto Tortosa (Manhattan Community College), Elysee Vilsaint (Manhattan Community College), Juan P. Gomez (CCNY).

Forwards: Lindel Pope (Kingsborugh Community College), Daniel Rendon (City Tech), Marcin Buk (City Tech).

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Feb. 19, 2006: Editor's Notes: CUNYAC's Best Players Vie For Select Team Tour Of South Africa
By Michael Lewis
ENYSoccer.com Editor

Maspeth, Queens -- Haitian native and midfielder Elysee Vilsaint has been to but a couple of countries in his two decades on this earth, so when he heard of an opportunity of visiting South Africa, he wasn't going to let it pass.

"I've got to give it a shot," he said recently. "It's a good opportunity. You never know.

"You never know there may be some coaches over there or what kind of offers you're going to get."

Vilsaint, a freshman midfielder with the Borough of Manhattan College, is one of 24 finalists vying for 18 positions on the City University of New York Athletic Conference team that plans a goodwill tour of the African country this summer.

Vilsaint, who was born in Haiti, has visited but two countries -- neighboring Dominican Republic when he played in a junior school soccer game and of course, the United States, where he attends college.

"Man, just going over there to get picked on the team, it?s a big thing actually," said Vilsaint, who resides in Brooklyn. "Just like you're a superstar traveling with a team playing in a tournament. I just love the thing. It's nice."

The trip, scheduled from July 25 to Aug. 6, will be the fourth goodwill tour by CUNYAC teams.

Three years ago a team representing the men's basketball teams toured the Dominican Republic. The women's basketball team traveled to Ecuador in 2004 and the women's volleyball squad went to Argentina last summer.

South Africa is a much more ambitious trip, given that it is on the other side world, higher costs and in a higher orbit. The CUNYAC team will tour the country only weeks after this year's World Cup in Germany. South Africa will host the 2010 event, so the team could very well wind up in the international spotlight.

"It really came from something that I always wanted to do," CUNYAC athletic director Zak Ivkovic said. "I think these CUNY students they don't get any benefits participating in sports."

So these international tours were formed, Ivkovic said, "to give them some extra benefits to be involved in CUNY, and also to give them a little exposure to the world. New York City is such a diverse city -- that we get kids from all over the world. This is sort of our little payback, post 911 to do a little goodwill tour, to go to a foreign country and learn about the language and culture, do some clinics for kids, do some community service whereby we see how the poor live in that country so we can appreciate more what we have right here in New York City and this country."

"I think it (the decision to go there) was made partially because of soccer being up on the agenda for the next trip," Ivkovic added. "So we looked at that as a good possibility to go to South Africa. but besides soccer, it serves a great purpose educationally -- to show the people of South Africa that a diverse team from New York City can come in and be seen as a kind of a team that works well and blends well together, something that they've been struggling with throughout their history and obviously something we can share as a common bond of sorts. I think South Africa is ideal for that."

Education can work both ways. The team hopes to visit Johannesburg and Capetown.

"And to go to see where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for all those years and being able to go to the townships and meet with those kids and for our kids to see how the people live there," Ivkovic said. "I think it would be an unbelievable learning experience."

The tour obviously isn't just about soccer.

"We're not going to go and try to show what phenomenal soccer players we are," Ivkovic said. "It is after all still Division III. These are kids who play soccer because they love it as they pursue their degree.

"We're going to schedule games against local club teams in the area we're going to visit, try maybe to play second and third division teams and some university teams, try to play four to five games.

"We're not going to play any big names in South Africa, that's for sure. Stuff that is not going to generate soccer publicity, but our goodwill way, which is what it's all about."

The CUNYAC team is indeed a melting pot. A total of 20 nationalities are vying for the final 24 spots. In many respects, the list is a microcosm of the city's population:

Ecuador, Colombia, U.S., Egyptian, Jamaica, Venezuela, Surinam, Azerbaijan, Guyana, Haiti, Japan, Cameroon, Trinidad & Tobago, Albania, Nigeria, Poland, Spain, Togo, Turkey, Mexico and of course, the U.S.

CUNYAC held several tryouts, the most recent ones at the Metropolitan Oval. Helped by the mild winter the region has enjoyed, it was easier for the coaches to see who could what talent there was.

"I think they went a lot better than I thought," said Borough of Manhattan coach Kenichi Yatsuhashi, co-coach of the team and associate director of coaching of Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association. "Turnout, I thought number wise and (quality) wise, it was a lot better than I thought it was (going to be).

"I think we have a good group of players."

CCNY coach Osborne Carter, another co-coach, agreed.

"We have good players out there," he said. "The longer we are able look at the kids, the more accurate we will be with our decisions and also to make it as expansive as possible.

"I believe its going to be a wonderful experience."

For Baruch College junior defender Thomas Murdoch, an all-CUNYAC selection from Middle Village, it is a trip of a lifetime. He's been to Mexico and the Bahamas.

"It will be a great experience," he said. "When I think of going away, I don't think of South Africa, because I don't know too much about it. I guess it will be a good experience to go there to see what it's all about.

"I can't wait."