Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lackawanna Yemen field

A dispute took place last night at the Lackawanna City Common Council meeting. A leader of a Baptist Church in Lackawanna thinks the Lackawanna Yemen soccer field should not be called such. He feels it's inappropriate for a field to be named after an ethnic group. The field was named 35 years ago and at the time nobody was opposed to it. This was probably because 35 years ago, most of the people playing soccer in this country were recent immigrants.Therefore, it was appropriate to name the field after the only group expected to use it...

Ethnic friction marks session on field, land
The naming of a city-owned soccer field 35 years ago and a continuing dispute between a mosque and a Baptist church over which should be allowed to purchase a vacant, city-owned South Street parcel led to ethnic dissension among neighbors during Monday’s meeting of the Lackawanna City Council. The recriminations started when Franklin Street resident John E. Ingram questioned the propriety of the “Yemen Soccer Field” sign posted inside a cityowned soccer field at 150 Lehigh Ave. that also serves as home field for the Lackawanna Yemen Soccer Club program. “When I asked about the sign, it was not to disparage the soccer team, which I think is a good program,” Ingram said, “. . . but the sign is inappropriate.” Angelo J. Iafallo, city recreation director, responded that the site was converted into a soccer field 35 years ago to accommodate the popularity of the sport among the city’s then-growing Yemeni community and was appropriately named. “The decision was that many of our new residents were Yemenites and their national pastime was soccer and they wanted to play their sport,” Iafallo said, “. . . and I think they wanted to, . . in memory of their country, put a sign up, which no one was opposed to.” Abdul K. Noman, who is both councilman for the 1st Ward and the longtime director of the Lackawanna Yemen Soccer Club, noted that the soccer club program and the field that it uses are open to all. However, Ingram, who is black, insisted that it was inappropriate for a cityowned park to be named in honor of one ethnic group in the city.

I don't live in Lackawanna, but I've been very active in youth soccer for about 20 years in South Buffalo. I know Abdul Noman very well. He has always been a great neighbor to me as well as the South Buffalo Soccer Club. He operates his club with many challenges the other suburban clubs don't have. Because many of his players' parents work 2nd shift, Abdul often drives entire teams to their away games in a van. He is the only coach in the Western NY travel league that does this. He has run his club since I was a youth player. Abdul is a patriotic American, who happens to be of Yemeni descent. (Look at what flag is raised next to the sign at the field in the above picture.) If the city was opposed to the field on Lehigh St. being called the Yemen Field, I propose they rename it the Abdul Noman Soccer Complex. That would solve John Ingram's problem.

The fact is, this dispute is about a parcel of land and not about the name of a field. It's too bad Ingram feels the need to bring race into the matter.

Ethnic friction marks session on field, land - Lackawanna - The Buffalo News

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Mike Blake for your excellent points. Being a member of the Lackawanna Yemen Soccer Club throughout my entire child and teenage years there is no way I can thank my coach Abdul Noman. He is an amazing individual who has definitely added value to the Lackawanna community!