NORWALK, Conn. – When Michael Broncati was a young boy, it took him eight months to save $137 to buy a CD player and CDs so he could listen to his favorite music while kicking the ball around his parents’ basement, pretending to take on soccer defenders.
“I used to spend hours and hours in the basement,” said Broncati. “I would practice everything and even use my brother as a goalie.”
He still remembers that Nickelback CD and the number of lightbulbs he had to replace in a typical six-month period – 50.
Broncati says soccer is in his blood because of his Brazilian background. That may be, but it’s also family, friends and faith who have encouraged him and helped make his boyhood dreams a reality.
A soccer standout at Norwalk High School and a two-year Division I player at St. Peter’s in Jersey City, N.J., the 23-year-old also tried his hand, or his foot as it were, playing overseas in Italy, Spain and Costa Rica before coming home to Norwalk to start his own soccer training program, Keep Kickin Soccer. The motto: "Love the game, learn the game, live the game."
“Norwalk is so diverse that the talent pool, if developed here, can be one of the best in the area,” said Broncati.
Keep Kickin Soccer, now two-years-old, runs summer camps in Norwalk and Westport and works with local community leagues and school teams as well as individuals throughout the year.
He credits his parents with teaching him the value of a strong work ethic.
“They taught me that if you have a passion for something, go at it and achieve it.”
And Broncati wanted a soccer place of his own.
It was his fixation with Craig’s List that led him to finding a home for Keep Kickin at 346 Main Avenue in Norwalk.
“I get a ridiculous amount of clients from Craig’s List,” admitted Broncati. “I’ve found equipment and good coaches. Everyday I quickly browse the site and one day in September I found someone looking for a fitness or strength-training coach, so I shot him an email.”
That someone turned out to be the owner of the old Hour building on Main Avenue. By the first week of December, Broncati had signed a deal to lease space for his soccer program and 433 RecPlex –433 being a common soccer formation of four defenders, three midfielders and three attackers – was born.
433 RecPlex is a fantastic space according to Broncati and features an 80x40-foot field, perfect for 4 vs. 4 or 5 vs. 5 games. (An official FIFA outdoor field, by contrast, is much larger at 330- to 360-feet long by 210- to 240-feet wide.)
“There are only positives in adjusting from a small field to a bigger field,” said Broncati.
“On an outdoor field, in a practice, a player may average only hundreds of touches, on our smaller field, they’re averaging thousands.
“The ball never stops on our FIFA-grade field and players can never stop thinking – and they have to think fast – about the game.”
Broncati hopes to have an official opening of his new facility by the end of January but is still awaiting approval from the zoning board. Also, he still needs to add some final touches: like protection for his ceiling lights.
For more information, visit Keep Kickin Soccer or call (203) 702-0516.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.