Soccer fans can tour NYC neighborhoods to explore immigrants’ impact on the ‘beautiful game’

When Jocelyn Taub was laid off from her promotions job at a city sports radio station, she took her love of the game to the streets.

Taub launched her own sports-themed tours, focusing on her love of soccer and its impact on the Manhattan immigrant experience.

"I’m a weird American in the sense that I’m a football fan — soccer," said Taub, 44, who lives on the Upper East Side: "A lot of people have their own walking tours; better to do it for yourself than be on the top of the bus. I saw that people had specialized tours. I thought, ‘Why not soccer?’ "

Taub started her Soccer Walks tours over the summer and now leads several 1-1/2 hour tours through the streets of neighborhoods such as Little Italy, the Lower East Side and the East Village. 

The tour starts at Sara D. Roosevelt Park, which Taub said is one of the few soccer fields smack in the middle of Manhattan. At each stop, she said she talks about the basic history of the area and how it applies to the game of soccer, pointing out that early games were played by students in the street.

"I thought it would be a great idea for New York because we are a melting pot," she said. "People have brought their love of the game here."

But the tours aren’t just about history — though there is plenty of that to go around. Each tour is scheduled around a game and culminates in watching a match at one of two city pubs. 

"I hope they have a good time — that’s why I included going to watch the match," she said, adding: "I want this to be so parents can take their kids. I’m trying to go to these pubs where they serve lunch."

She said that so far the tourists have been a combination of locals and some English tourists. 

"Its definitely a niche market but I’m confident," she said, adding: "I’m a one-woman operation. I figure I’ve got to get the word out."