2006-08-25 / Sports

Major League Soccer Star Makes Waves At Beach Channel

By Elio Velez

Kids run around during the soccer clinic. Photo By Miriam Rosenberg. 
Kids run around during the soccer clinic. Photo By Miriam Rosenberg. New York Red Bulls soccer player Edson Buddle had every right to be tired. When he arrived at Beach Channel High School as part of the Action Center Expo soccer clinic last Sunday, Buddle had little sleep after arriving back in the city at 4:30 a.m. after a flight from Columbus, Ohio.

Some athletes would have given the excuse of not showing up, citing factors such as playing the night before in a disappointing 1-0 loss in a Major League Soccer game against the Columbus Crew.

It was frustrating for sure for the forward to not put a goal in for a team that is in the hunt for a playoff berth this late in the MLS campaign. Exhaustion could have also been a justification for not showing up.

Buddle didn't even think about those excuses. There he was on the Beach Channel High School field in the mid-afternoon as part of the Action Center Expo that took place last Sunday. Clad in sweatpants, Nike T-shirt and shades, he was smiling and playing with boys and girls who looked to be very excited to participate in the game of soccer.

The clinic started with a fun game called Buffalo Stampede, or at least the name Edson Buddle remembers while growing up. The kids would start on the sideline and run up to the midfield while avoiding balls kicked in their direction. The kids jumped, evaded but the smiles were apparent as a few were knocked to the ground.

"It's good to be out here for the kids. That is most important," Buddle said. "When you're young, soccer is a good starting point for a young kid."

His father was a good starting point for valuable lessons about the sport. Winston Buddle traveled the globe playing Greece for most of his career as well as landing in Belgium and finally in the United States.

Raised in New Rochelle, the 25 year old is named after a soccer legend. His first name of Edson is the birth name of Pele, the most well known soccer player in the world.

Emulating former Dutch superstars Ruud Gullitt and Marco Van Basten as soccer players, Buddle took up soccer and did not attend the University of Connecticut so he can start out his professional career.

From the A-League Long Island Rough Riders in 2000, where as a 18 year old, he scored 26 goals, Buddle moved on to Columbus for five seasons. He was traded in the offseason to the Red Bulls.

"My dad made me watch the game growing up. I watched how they played.

In the United States, the game of soccer, though known around the world as football, is slowly gaining acceptance. And it's clinics like this, with boys and girls running around the field in joy, learning tips from Buddle and other soccer teachers that will get the sport to achieve a level of popularity that one day might equal to the other well acclaimed sports.

The dream has come true for Buddle. He is playing in the top market of MLS with the Red Bulls, he is once again living near his family and is in a long term relationship with his girlfriend back in Columbus.

He'll stress the point to the boys and girls that the dream did not come easy. With hard work and a bit of dreaming, Buddle says some of the kids on the BCHS field may be playing on a professional field someday.

"It's about fun but it's also about discipline. You need that to be a good player and be good enough to achieve anything and maybe play professionally."

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