PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The New England Soccer Hall of Fame, which has recognized the region’s best players, coaches, referees, executives, and builders since 1978, has announced its 2013 class of inductees, all of whom will be honored during the Hall’s 36th Annual Induction Ceremony on Sunday, November 24, 2013 at the Hilltop Hotel in Seekonk, Mass. The ceremony will start at 1:00pm.
Information about the induction dinner, which is open to the public, is available at nesoccerhall.com or by contacting Chairman of the Board Joseph Sousa at email@example.com.
Among this year’s honorees are former Rhode Island Oceaneers midfielder Juan Cano, Western Mass Pioneers club president Celso Correia, longtime USSF referee George Cortes, former Providence College men’s soccer coach Bill Doyle, South Center Premier president Andrea Duffy, former University of Rhode Island men’s soccer coach Geza Henni, longtime youth administrator Kathy Palmeiro, PROJECT GOAL co-founder Darius Shirzadi and former Brown men’s soccer coach Cliff Stevenson.
Juan Cano came to the United States from Colombia in 1973 and shortly thereafter linked up with Giovanni XXIII in Rhode Island. Later that year, he made the successful jump to ASL competition when he joined the Rhode Island Oceaneers. It proved to be a fruitful signing for the Oceaneers, who won the 1974 ASL championship with Cano earning Rookie of the Year honors. Cano continued his career in Rhode Island through 1976 before joining the New Jersey Americans in 1977. His arrival coincided with the Generals winning the ASL championship that year In 1978, he was named Most Valuable Player, and shortly thereafter, he joined the New England Team for the 1979 and 1980 seasons. He lives in Central Falls, RI.
Celso Correia played for the Gremio Lusitano Club in Ludlow, MA for years before taking over as club president in the mid-90s. Motivated by a dare posed by fellow club members, Correia started the the Western Mass Pioneers, a side that entered USISL in 1997. In 1999, the Pioneers won the USL-2 championship, and became one of the strongest teams in third-division soccer. The Pioneers advanced to the USL-2 championship again in 2005, but the Charlotte Eagles denied them of a second title. In 2010, the Pioneers entered PDL, where they continually set attendance records among New England-based squads. Correia remains an integral part of the team’s success, and is often seen at Lusitano Stadium chatting with fans, players and coaches alike. He lives in Ludlow, MA.
George Cortes was born in Colombia but moved to the U.S. at age 18. After playing and refereeing numerous games in his native country as a youth referee, Cortes earned his Business Administration degree at Worcester State College, all the while working as a local Spanish-language sportscaster part-time. He played for Worcester Scandinavian Club with his brother in 1967, before moving onto a number of different teams in Massachusetts during the 1970s. Although a severe leg injury cut his playing career short in 1975, it wasn’t long before he returned to the pitch – as a referee. In 1977, he commenced a decorated career that saw him referee in LASA, USISL, and PDL leagues, and also served as an assistant referee in a few international friendlies. He currently serves as a USSF instructor and National Assessor. Earlier this year, he was recognized by the USSF as a Lifetime Member. He lives in Worcester, MA.
Bill Doyle piloted the Providence College Friars to a hugely successful run that spanned four decades. He kicked off his stint with the Friars in 1968, and built the program into a New England powerhouse. In 1983, he not only led the Friars to the NCAAs, but the team also earned the Sampson Trophy as the top team in the Eastern Region. That same year, Doyle was named BIG EAST Coach of the Year, and a year later, he was a finalist for National Coach of the Year after the Friars were ranked eighth in the country, and first in New England. During a 27-year career at PC that lasted through 1994, Doyle put together a 207-155-35 mark, all the while he became the second-longest tenured coach in Providence College athletic history. He lives in Wakefield, RI.
Andrea Duffy kicked off her soccer journey in 1984 when she was named Secretary of the West Haven Youth Soccer League, a post she held until 2000. Shortly after she joined the WHYSL, she became South Central District Registrar in 1986, before moving on to State Registrar in 1991. Two years later, she was elected as President of the CJSA, and during her tenure, established the CJSA Inner City Program, as well as the CJSA Scholarship Program. She also kickstarted the CJSA American Cup, the CJSA website, the CJSA Young Player Development Program, TOPSoccer for athletes with disabilities and the Silent Sidelines Weekend program. She is also involved with the USSF and US Youth Soccer, and remains involved with South Central District and is president of South Central Premier. She was inducted into the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame in 2006. She lives in Branford, CT.
Geza Henni spent 20 years on the sideline as head coach of the University of Rhode Island men’s soccer team, starting in 1969. During his tenure, he posted a 175-125-47 record, and led the Rams to NCAA berths, as well as first place finishes in the New England and Yankee Conferences. He was named New England Coach of the Year in 1979, and served as an assistant professor of physical education at Kingston from 1969-89, and is now professor emeritus. Prior to his coaching career, Henni was a member of the Hungary National Team from 1946-54, before moving on to coach the U.S. National Team at the Pan American Games in 1967. He also guided the U.S. through its World Cup qualification process in 1965, and not long after, was appointed coach of the Houston Stars (NASL) from 1967-69. He lives in Florida.
Kathy Palmeiro served as Rhode Island Youth Invitation Indoor Tournament League Administrator from 1983-2006, all while also serving as President of Plantation Indoor Soccer. In 2000, she was named Region 1 Premier League Administrator, and in that role, she established the Premier and Sub-Regional Leagues. She lives in Foster, RI.
Darius Shirzadi co-founded PROJECT GOAL, an organization that provides academic, soccer and life skills to inner city children, in 2003 and since then, has made it one of the most visible youth soccer outreach programs in the country. His organization has helped over 700 children and their families, and has raised over four million dollars for scholarships and assistance to at risk children. PROJECT GOAL was recognized as a recipient of the FIFA Football for Hope Programme Grant in 2012 and 2013, and earned USSF grants in 2009, 2012 and 2013. The organization has been profiled in The Providence Journal, The Pawtucket Times, WJAR 10, WLNE 6 and Soccer New England. Prior to his involvement with PROJECT GOAL, Shirzadi served as assistant coach, general manager and director of operations for the Rhode Island Stingrays from 1995-99. He lives in Providence, RI.
Cliff Stevenson is regarded as one of the most distinguished coaches in college soccer history after a remarkable 38-season tenure at Brown University. From 1960-90, the Bears clinched 15 conference titles, including six straight from 1963-68. Between 1966 and 1968, the Bears ran a remarkable 26-game unbeaten streak, but were precluded from participating in the NCAA tournament due to the Ivy League’s refusal to adhere to a NCAA ruling. His influence on high school soccer in the Ocean State was undeniable; through his tireless efforts, soccer was offered at every state high school by the time he retired in 1990 despite the fact that the sport was rarely offered at the high school level when he started at Brown. Stevenson wasn’t just a coach or advocate for the sport, either; he was an innovator as well, who introduced the now-classic black and white paneled soccer ball, as well as the introduction of ball boys and ball girls to help speed up the game at the college level. Stevenson compiled a career 299-176-12 record in college soccer. A testament of his legacy isn’t hard to find at Brown, as the school soccer stadium was christened “Stevenson Field” in 1979. He lives in Sun City Center, FL.