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Hall of Fame Spotlight - Eugene O'Brien (1991)


During this late 1960s, Gene O'Brien was playing on an Atlanta District Amateur Soccer League team. His love of the game led him to join a group of pioneers in developing opportunities for youth players to be able to experience the joys of playing soccer.

In 1967, O'Brien began coaching youth soccer for the YMCA. In 1970, he became involved with the DeKalb Youth Soccer Association (DYSA), a fledgling youth soccer league in South DeKalb County. Using his knowledge of the game learned during his first twenty years in Ireland, O'Brien coached and held numerous administrative positions within DYSA. During his tenure with the association, he saw the youth league grow from a mere 44 players to being recognized as one of the most successful leagues of its time. On the state level, he held a number of positions, including Vice Chairman of the Georgia Soccer at a time when it was growing rapidly. 

As youth soccer continued to grow, O'Brien saw a need for an advanced youth program to help develop more committed and motivated players. In 1979, with the help and encouragement of five other youth coaches, he drafted the first Bylaws of the GYSA Classic Division.That program still exists and still successfully provides a competitive program for youth player training and development. 

In the years following the formation of the GYSA Classic Division, seven of the teams that O'Brien coached competed in the United States Youth Soccer Association Regional Tournaments, garnering four medals, including a coveted Gold Medal won by his undefeated 14U Liverpool Reds team in the 1984 Tournament in Tampa, Florida. In the mid-80s, O'Brien established himself on Prime Cable Television's to weekly boy's and girl's high school soccer games, and for seven years he served as the play-by-play announcer for the televised series of games. He was then awarded the GYSA Service Award for his outstanding service to Georgia Youth Soccer. O'Brien ended his youth soccer coaching career in 1989 and was inducted into the Georgia Soccer Hall of Fame in 1991.