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2017 USASA Hall of Fame Class Announced

By USASA Communications, 05/30/17, 10:45AM CDT


2017 USASA Hall of Fame Inductees

The Hall of Fame Committee and USASA are happy to announce the latest class of the United States Adult Soccer Hall of Fame. We're proud to welcome each of the new members and excited to see them inducted this fall.

The USASA Hall of Fame was established in 2006, to honor those individuals who have significantly contributed to the growth of adult amateur soccer in the United States. The selected individuals will be inducted into the Hall at the USASA’s annual Midyear Meeting, to take place this year in Lake Tahoe.

Darius Ejlali

Soccer has always been a part of Darius' life. He has dedicated more than 22 years to the betterment of adult soccer in the central Triangle area of North Carolina and to the welfare of the North Carolina Adult Soccer Association and the United States Adult Soccer Association.  Since 2010 he has served as the Executive Director of NCASA but has never ceased his dedication as a volunteer.  He loves soccer and is living his life-long dream of giving his all to it.  Few can match his passion.

His dedication over an extended period of time as NCASA State President and as Executive Director has propelled NCASA into being a highly-respected state association in Region Ill and nationally.  Darius' guiding compass is the Good of the Game, exemplified through his barnstorming leadership in North Carolina to submit and obtain passage of General Assembly legislation for a Support Soccer in North Carolina license-plate program. Although he originated the idea and the vision, he successfully encouraged the legislation to be spearheaded by the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame so that funds from the purchase of plates would benefit the entire North Carolina soccer community.  The Hall of Fame brings together NCASA, NCYSA, NCSRA and NCSCA.

In his eight years as Region Ill Deputy Director, Darius consistently championed making the Region Ill National Cup a sought-after venue for competition at the highest level.  He always encouraged participation by teams from all 12 state associations and sought the best possible fields and playing conditions.  Hours and hours were spent on the phone talking with state leaders and team captains.  The fact that the National Cup is the oldest adult soccer competition in the United States has been a source of satisfaction to him for the time and dedication that he has given to strengthen the competition and make it successful.

Two of his greatest attributes are his dedication and commitment. His desire to support the goals of the state and national organizations drive him to develop new ideas and inspiration for the game in North Carolina and the nation.  Enriching the players' experience and playing opportunities has been a driving force for him.

As State President for 9 years he established an extensive network among state presidents, administrators, the USASA national office and US Soccer.  Encouraging the use of best practices has been a hallmark standard for him.

As coach and team manager, he worked hard to secure sponsorships so the team could pursue regional and national goals without needing to be supported financially by the players.  As a league director he ran a highly competitive statewide league, which supported adult elite players, former college players and former professional players.  The league ran from Charlotte to Wilmington and produced some of the best teams in North Carolina.  Darius also helped to form and administer a very large Hispanic league.  He worked with sponsors to assist the league with field costs and prize awards to minimize costs for its members.

Ricardo Olivas

Since taking on the presidency of CSAN more that 16 years ago, Ric has worked extremely hard with a staff of just one or two employees to process 10,000 - 13,000 player registrations per year. He has set up and managed the meetings of the board of directors and executive board, ensured that budgets were followed and accounting done, ensured the employees were paid properly, managed and helped renovate the office building, and worked with numerous erratic volunteers and their various committees. He has also traveled throughout northern California recruiting new leagues and attending state and local league events.  And Ric has helped modernize CSAN's governing documents, computer systems, registration systems and policies.

Ric's playing career includes the following:

1954 - 1959: played for the San Francisco Viking AC U15 Team

1959: played for the San Francisco Viking Golden Gate Team (the Reserve team for the Viking's First Division team).

1959 - 1967: played for the San Francisco Viking team in the First Division of the San Francisco Soccer Football League.

1961-1965: Played NCAA Division 1 soccer for the University of San Francisco (USF).  Played on two Far West Conference championship teams, two Rocky Mountain Conference championship teams and played against the University of St. Louis in 1962 and 1965 in the NCAA Division 1 semi-final games. He was captain of the USF team his junior and senior years, and was voted All Conference and All American in 1965.

1963: played for the San Francisco Soccer Football League All Star team in games against the

New Zealand National Men's Team, Chivas of Guadalajara and the British Columbia All Stars.

1979-1982: Played for the Sons of Italy FC in the Papy Futbol League.

1969 - 1972: Coached the San Francisco Viking AC U18 and First Division teams.

Anthony Sanneh

Anthony “Tony” Sanneh was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota to an American mother and a Gambian father. Through a combination of skill and determination he enjoyed an impressive 17 year professional soccer career.  Major career highlights include starring in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan, two Major League Soccer championships in the United States, and participation in UEFA Champions League with Hertha Berlin during his 6 years in the German Bundesliga.

Mr. Sanneh’s impact on American soccer was recently recognized by being named a part of

Soccer America’s U.S. Men’s National Team “All-Decade Team,” and his selection as a finalist for the United States Soccer Hall of Fame.

In 2003, while still at the height of his professional career, Mr. Sanneh created The Sanneh Foundation (TSF) to leverage what he saw as soccer’s unique potential to create positive social change for youth.  Currently acting as the organization’s full time CEO, he oversees TSF’s overall direction and future development in both the United States and internationally, growing TSF from one program and a total budget of $60,000, to 6 programs and yearly budget of $1.7 in the last four years.

In addition to his executive leadership role with The Sanneh Foundation, Mr. Sanneh proudly serves as a Sports Envoy on behalf of the SportsUnited Division of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  In this diplomatic capacity he has worked in Cyprus, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Malaysia to further American cultural values of gender equity and respect for diversity.

Because of this international work, and his work domestically with TSF, Mr. Sanneh was also nominated to represent the State Department as an expert speaker at a United Arab Emirates sponsored Senior Official Meeting on the margins of last year’s United Nations General Assembly about the role of sports and education as a tool to counter violent extremism (CVE) among marginalized youth in the Middle East.  This work, and ongoing participation in expert meetings with the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) on the role of sports, arts, and cultural programs in CVE, produced The 2015 Abu Dhabi Memorandum, a best practices document focusing on the ways education can be used as a resource to prevent and counter violent extremism.

From having one of the most successful professional careers of any American soccer player to date, to becoming a successful social entrepreneur and international youth development leader, Tony Sanneh has defied expectations at every turn, and in the process redefined the life of a professional athlete.

Barbara Trainor

Barbara started in soccer back in1982 in the way so many of us do, when her son wanted to play and there was no coach. She started playing so that she could learn what to teach the boys.

After some trial and error, she quickly learned what skills could and couldn’t be transferred to 5 year olds. She achieved her D level coaching license and progressed with the team for several years. Realizing a need to provide playing opportunities for girls, she then switched to coaching girls, taking a team from losing every game to first place in their division after only a few seasons.

Barbara also started refereeing soccer just a few years after coaching.  She refereed youth games through U19, some high school, some community college, and some for the local adult leagues. She achieved her Level 6 license, becoming one of the first women State referees in Arizona. She continued to actively referee for 12 years, with some of the highlights being selected as the 4th official in a USWNT friendly against Australia and being selected as the center referee in an international youth friendly game in Mexico (they wanted to see if women could really referee). Barbara served as referee assessor and several years as a mentor for youth referees.

Barbara has played adult soccer now for 30 years. In her second year of playing, there was a vacant office on the AWSL board, so she became a board member.  A few years later, when there was some turmoil at the state level and the league considered un-affiliating, Barbara and other AWSL board members executed a plan to take over the ASSA board to salvage what was left and try to bring back estranged leagues.  A few years later, she took an ASSA board position and has been there ever since with her current position being president.

Barbara became the USASA Region secretary in 1996 and continues to serve in that role.  She has served with many different Region directors.  She was appointed to the USASA Membership committee and served in that position for several years.  In that position, she attended many different events promoting awareness about adult soccer.

Barbara’s latest appointment is to the USASA technology committee, where she is the chair of the committee. She leads a team of experts skilled in technology and registration processes with a goal of implementing a USASA registration system.