Join us for S6:EP13 of the Sports Philanthropy Podcast as Evan Dabby, Executive Director of New Jersey Youth Soccer sits down with our host; Roy Kessel to share his journey and the work that he is doing to transform lives through soccer.
Evan Dabby is the Executive Director of NJ Youth Soccer where he oversees all aspects of business operations. Prior to that he served 16 seasons at the MLS League Office where he was responsible for a variety of programs during his tenure: Game Operations, Stadium Operations, Security, Supporter Groups, Sports Medicine and Team Travel.
The vision of NJYSA is to provide fun and safe soccer experiences at all ages and abilities for the youth soccer community.
The mission of NJYSA is to serve the youth soccer community by providing our members with programs, tools, education, training, and governance; promoting a positive, inclusive culture and safe environment; and encouraging the development of youth soccer players of all ages and skill levels
New Jersey Youth Soccer runs an impressive array of soccer programming including travel leagues, recreational league and a Top Soccer program that provides opportunities for over individuals with Developmental Disabilities. With over 350 clubs participating in their leagues, NJYS serves over 100,000 players throughout the state.
NJYS has made a strong effort to cultivate a positive experience on the field and to eliminate some of the negative experiences we have seen in other types of youth sports including major initiatives to reduce the abuse of referees and coaches.
NJYS also provides support for other communities by donating soccer balls to Afghan refugess and by running a robust TOP Soccer Program for players with special needs. Over 1000 players with special needs participate in their program where they partnered with RJW Barnabas Health. They are also working to build mini-pitches by partnering with the US Soccer Foundation and they are excited about look ahead to the World Cup in 2026.
One of the big initiatives is to create a culture of fun within the spirit of competition. Events like a Fright Fest Tournament highlight that point.
As they look to the future, NJYS is also committed to growing the opportunities for girls and women as we celebrate 50 years of Title IX. NJYS is focused on getting more women involved in both coaching and officiating.
Highlights of Evan’s Podcast
- 00:00 Introduction and building love around the game
- 00:45 ODP, State Cup, TOP Soccer and Coaching Development
- 02:00 Development of passion in sports as a kid and played sports year-round
- 02:30 Mom liked watching sports and his dad played a lot of sports with him
- 03:45 Why soccer was attractive to him (friends, fun, competition and winning)
- 07:00 Development of Leadership Skills
- 11:00 Evan’s playing career
- 12:45 How to break into a sports career
- 13:45 Career at Major League Soccer
- 15:00 Structure and programs within NJYS
- 18:00 Creating a positive experience within competition
- 19:30 Dealing with the challenges of travel leagues
- 20:30 Controlling player movement
- 22:00 How to embed a culture of respect
- 23:45 Handling the abuse of officials
- 25:00 Collection of sports equipment and soccer balls
- 26:30 TOP Soccer program for players with special needs
- 29:00 What is on the horizon for NJYS
- 31:00 Looking forward to the World Cup 2026
- 31:30 Brynn (Evan’s daughter) jumping in with her thoughts on soccer and Fright Fest!
- 33:00 Best ways to reach NJYS
- 34:00 Evan as Commissioner of the MLS