When Ray Selvadurai, director of coaching for the Manhattan Soccer Club, is not on the pitch, he is with his daughter in the Bronx.
Manhattan Soccer Club One of the largest youth football organizations in New York. Its home base for play is Randall’s Island in Manhattan, where approximately 1,500 members ages 5 to 23 train and compete on its 31 soccer fields. Ray Selvadurai, who has been with the club for 23 years, is its coaching director.
Play was suspended from March to August last year, due to the virus, which took one of the club’s favorite coach. “Freddie Fuentes was only 49 years old; he worked here for 15 years,” said Mr. Selvadurai. “We still haven’t recovered from that, and probably never will.”
But with players and parents on Randall’s Island, at least things are returning to normal on the field. “We have realized how much we have missed out on all this,” said Mr. Selvadurai. “I’ll never admit it again.”
Mr. Selvadurai, 48, lives in Sputane Deauville in the Bronx. His 10-year-old daughter Ella stays with him on weekends.
light and sweet My biological alarm clock goes off at 7:30 a.m. I have two cups of coffee with milk and two equals – I like it sweet. I make this using coffee from Tierney Fine Foods, this old-world deli that’s five minutes from my house. My daughter walks into the kitchen and asks “Daddy’s eggs benedicts.” We talk about our day and the week ahead. She tells me about her school friends and her new sister who is just a few months old. This is our special time to sit together and learn about his life.
Standing ‘Daddy’ count If we have home games, I leave her in her mother’s pelham. We do daily runs in Tierney first. Ella walks in and just says, ‘Daddy.’ They know it’s me and hand him my coffee and a turkey and cheddar sandwich.
park and pack The drive to Randalls Island is probably 20 minutes. I’m there by 10:30. I park a lot under the Triborough Bridge. I pull out of my folding chair, which I bought at REI, my favorite store for outdoor camping, that’s big enough for me to sit and stay comfortable, my Yeti stuffed with water and a notebook, and all. Put some in my bag. For the next six hours I watch sports and training sessions.
round I oversee the entire club, so I am in charge of developing the curriculum for the players and working with the coaching staff. We are a national level program, so we have had some great success professionally. As a director, people should see you and know who you are. Sundays are when families come, which is the real dynamic of this city game. It is a great pleasure to see everyone. How normal this all seems. Watching a football game live outside is a special thing. When it is taken from you, you realize how much you miss it.
Play For the first two hours I watch my local teams, aged 12 to 19. At 12:30 I also watch the premier teams, from 12 to 19. these kids There are completely different game levels. At 2:30 I go to meet players aged 8 to 11. This is the sponge age; They take everything. It is a real pleasure to watch them grow up. He likes to wear the uniform and be a part of the team. This is the future of our club. I’ve been drinking water all day, but now I’ll have a powerbar or a sandwich.
Breakdown At 4:30 whoever has the last game helps break the ground. It’s a sea of parents and coaches bringing soccer equipment — flags, nets and benches — which is good because everyone cooperates. Everything is put in a big, red storage locker. In the corner is a box full of lost and found items that are always overflowing: shin guards, cleats, soccer balls, sweatshirts. When you have 1,500 kids, you name him, he’s here. I trek back to my car. The bridge is right above me. You can see and hear the cars as it connects our community to other cities.
sushi with ella I go back to Pelham and pick up my daughter at about 5:30 and drive back to my house, which is only 6.7 miles away. She can do her homework or play Roblox on her iPad. This is a game where you build small cities and economies. She’s a big sushi fan so we order from Sushi Palace – miso soup, spicy tuna and crab rolls, pieces of salmon – and talk about our day.
Bridge Films I am trying to make Ella adopt the movies I saw in my childhood. We have seen all three movies “Karate Kid”. Seeing him with them makes me feel nostalgic and connects generations. Sometimes we laugh at the same thing. She is the female version of me in many ways. By 9:30 she is taking a bath and in bed.
work, then disconnect I look at notes from training sessions and games and prepare for the week at the dining room table. I will send emails and communicate with coaches. I think about the players. During the week I am out with all of them. I am very close to knowing everyone’s name. My players would call and talk. It is an earned trust between families and players. It is a great responsibility to be this second voice in their lives. I stay at midnight. I have a rule: I keep my phone on the coffee table outside the bedroom, on silent. I should have good and uninterrupted sleep.
Regular Sunday readers can follow Ray Selvadurai on Twitter @SelvaduraiRay.