German Mena: “Since I was a teenager, I realized I wasn’t a good player to make the top level or the next step, but I love soccer.” (Vincent Treglia Photo)
QUEENS, N.Y. — German Mena got it early on in his life.
He knew he had some talent as a soccer player, but realized he wasn’t good enough to turn pro in his native Honduras.
So, he did the next best thing — he coached and organized teams and leagues and became an icon of soccer in Yonkers, N.Y.
Mena was rewarded for his perseverance and dedication to the beautiful game as he was inducted into the Eastern New York Soccer Hall of Fame by the Eastern New York State Soccer Association Sunday night.
“If I had 30 minutes, I wouldn’t be able to tell you all of his great accomplishments,” said Augie Cambria, who presented Mena. “But German, like all of the Hall of Famers here, his first step as a baby was to kick a soccer ball. He was an excellent player. He played all through high school. But he realized he couldn’t go to the next step because he didn’t have those skills. His knowledge and his leadership were acknowledged by the people in Honduras in his hometown and they asked him to be a coach.”
Mena moved to the United States in 1994 and formed a team named Friends United that competed in Liga Mexicana de Yonkers. That team finished last out of 16 teams in its first two seasons. In 1998, some of his fellow countrymen asked Mena to form a team of Honduras and Honduras Yonkers was born. In 1999, the side started a run in which it won six consecutive championships.
His success eventually led to the City of Yonkers asking him to create a new “certified” league — Liga de Yonkers, which also joined the Eastern District Soccer League. Mena was far from finished, he established an Over-30 league and O-40 circuit and the first Yonkers league for women. Mena is currently an EDSL board member.
“Tonight, I just want to give my special thanks to God to bring me over here, to my wife, my family; my mom is here,” Mena said in his acceptance speech. “I thank Peter [Pinori, ENYSSA secretary general] for picking out my name and for the other guys to accept my nomination.
“But the thing is you have soccer in your blood. Everything that I do or everything that I did is nothing because I feel extra to do. I just do whatever I love to do. Since I was a teenager, I realized I wasn’t a good player to make the top level or the next step, but I love soccer.”