, who helped grow the Long Island Junior Soccer League into one of the biggest youth leagues in the country, died on Saturday at age 87.
Collins, who was inducted into
the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1998, came to the United States from Ireland in 1957 and held two jobs, working as a welder for the Long Island Lighting Company and a security guard at Cantiague
Park in Hicksville in the evenings.
But he found time to coach three of his four children, including Michael Collins
, an indoor star who made two appearances for the USA in 1992,
and lead the Hicksville Minutemen to the McGuire Cup finals in both 1979 and 1980.
Peter Collins served as president of the LIJSL for more than 27 years (1977-2004) as youth soccer took
off in response to the introduction of the NASL. The LIJSL was the first league to start a Special Olympics soccer program, and it organized a popular convention and introduced tournaments.
Players who have come through the Long Island program include Mike Petke
, Mark Semioli
, Chris Armas
and Chris Wingert
The LI Soccer Park in Plainview was
renamed the Peter C. Collins Soccer Park.