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Hall of Fame Spotlight - Benjamin Gross (1997)


Ben Gross is known as one of Georgia Soccer's most enthusiastic boosters. One of his earliest memories is marching in the 1967 Loyalty Day Parade in Rockdale County, which in those days was about as improbable a place for soccer development as any in Georgia. Gross marched wearing a full soccer uniform and manipulated a soccer ball, giving most of the Rockdale citizens their first exposure to the sport.

The first year that organized youth soccer began in Rockdale County, he personally saw to many of its needs. He developed 11 youth soccer fields and provided uniforms, shoes, balls and referees.

In those early days Ben Gross provided leadership, motivation and direction that laid a solid foundation for youth, amateur and professional soccer in the state. He organized coaching and referee instruction, became a licensed referee, served in various offices of the local leagues, helped organize and sponsor the Atlanta Chiefs Booster Club and coached youth teams when needed. Many a child who could not afford to join a youth soccer league were sponsored through his generosity, a fact that is not well known. 

A major event in Georgia Soccer occurred in 1968 when the Manchester City soccer team of the English Football League First Division came to town for a professional exhibition game against the Atlanta Chiefs. A fiercely-contested competition was conducted to see which Soccer Booster Club member could sell the most tickets and Gross won without question. He also sponsored a picnic for the two teams and about 700 fans.

His enthusiasm, support, personal involvement, leadership and positive impact on the game in Georgia is the reason why he was inducted into the Georgia Soccer Hall of Fame in 1997.