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Brian Pugh

Brian Pugh, born in Coventry, left his heart in England when he traveled to Torrance, California to find employment at Garrett-AiResearch. Soon, Brian who followed Coventry City Soccer to the highest degree was involved in AYSO via his two children and then as coach. Brian is one of the most prolific writers not only as a Los Angeles Aztec game reporter for Soccer America, but as a City of Torrance AYSO soccer enthusiast. Brian loved Coventry City but he treasured Torrance. Brian readily understood that AYSO was truly Americanizing the sport of soccer by their EVERYONE IS INVITED and EVERYONE PLAYS PHILOSOPHIES. Brian truly became an American and supported AYSO through his exceptional talents, especially as a gifted soccer writer. An example of his writings illustrate his respect for America, the City of Torrance and AYSO’s place in American soccer history:

    

“Torrance-Soccer-City, USA by Brian Pugh.1974. The City of Torrance is just one of that cobweb of sprawling cities that constitute Greater Los Angeles. It has the luxury of about a mile of beach to breathe the saline air of the Pacific Ocean, and is a buoyant city of 150,000, thriving on modernity and its plethora of aerospace workers. Shoppers swell its population considerably, heading for its mall, the world's largest. It is a cheerful, healthy city. But what has Torrance in common with Oneonta, New York? Soccer, of course. While Oneonta is the soccer phenomenon of the east, Torrance has become an adopted brother of the west. Soccer was virtually unknown in Torrance until 1964 when five citizens met in a restaurant to form the American Youth Soccer Organization. Now it is an established fact that more soccer is played in Torrance than all other sports combined. UnAmerican? Please read on. While readers of this paper know that soccer is not a foreign game, it is an arguable point that association football has been defeating itself in the United States through ethnic groups insisting on doing things their way, and inevitably winding up fighting each other in the name of the "old country." When the five gentlemen mentioned above sat in that restaurant, one of them, an amiable Englishman named Bill Hughes, insisted that the president should be a native-born American citizen. Only one, Hans Stierie, born in Chicago, whose parents had taken him to Germany prior to World War 11 and returned after it, filled the bill, and so Stierle took the helm. Nine teams (aged 9 to 12) were formed around the Torrance area, four of them in its bounds, the remainder in the West Los Angeles area. So AYSO proudly completed the 1964-65 season. The following year, the game spread across Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley and Sierra Madre, and AYSO teams more than doubled to nineteen. Then during 1966-67 came the most critical part of AYSO's existence, when, despite adding another age group (12-15), the number of teams dipped to sixteen. At this time the western area ceased to function, due to loss of key leadership personnel, and morale began to weaken. But in Torrance an impregnable spirit was engendered. Soccer goalposts were being battered and uprooted by footballers and the acquiescent European minds were being treated with polite disdain by school principals in their quest for pitches. "Hey!" said the American parents, now aficionados of the game, "Those people should be working for us!" So the soccer citizens of Torrance, led by a determined aerospace engineer, Joe Bonchonsky, a former Pennsylvania State University-footballer, and another ex-football player from Syracuse, New York, Ron Littlefair, campaigned for, and won, more school playing fields. Bonchonsky's reply to the football vandals was to start a tubular metal goalpost factory. These posts were erected with four feet set in concrete below ground level. The posts remain to this day. Joe Bonchonsky was introduced to soccer after his wife entered two of his sons in the inaugural 1964 year. His eldest, Michael, in fact, scored the first goal in AYSO's history. Bonchonsky has been actively involved in the game ever since. With such inspirational examples, AYSO blossomed, and the following year ended with 72 teams: a 351% increase. 'The word sensational is something of an understatement when one considers the succeeding annual team growth figures of AYSO: 122, 216. 379, 744... until now when the figure stands at 18,000 teams and over 250,000 players nationwide, and this does not reflect other developing associations, such as the outstanding California Youth Soccer Association. But the seeds were sown in the City of Torrance, and while the city basked in the California sunshine, its soccer converts certainly did not. Bonchonsky and others had "sold" soccer to American minds, and with help from foreign support, in no small way by the "brain drain" of aerospace engineers from Britian - it was no accident that the hub of AYSO was built around the organized minds of aerospace engineers - in the city of Torrance. While bumper stickers can be seen bearing the words ..Torrance, Soccer City, USA" there is no hint of an Oneonta, move over" attitude. The people of Torrance are merely grateful to see their youth run, jump and kick, and having fun with the world's greatest game. They would wish Oneonta, and its National Soccer Hall of Fame, all the success in the world and be happy to be its kid brother. EDITOR’S COMMENT: So far we have heard of the following "Soccer Cities": Oneonta, NY., Danville, PA.; Torrance, CA. If you have one in your state or near you. please write and let us know so we can include them in our mailing list.

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