What is TOPSoccer?
US Youth Soccer TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) is a community-based training and team placement program for young athletes with disabilities, organized by youth soccer association volunteers. The program is designed to bring the opportunity of learning and playing soccer to any boy or girl, who has a mental or physical disability. Our goal is to enable the thousands of young athletes with disabilities to become valued and successful members of the US Youth Soccer family.
TOPSoccer was formed to perpetuate the US Youth Soccer mission statement which is, in part, "to foster the physical, mental and emotional growth and development of America's youth through the sport of soccer at all levels of age and competition." There are thousands of children with disabilities who need, and can be provided with, the opportunity to play soccer through the TOPSoccer program.
The unique thing about TOPSoccer is that each program is different and is created around the needs of the participants. Additionally, TOPSoccer athletes are placed on teams according to ability, not age.
Length of program is determined by organizer
Playing rules: Create rules to fit specific needs and use the US Youth Soccer Under-6, Under-8 or Under-10 guidelines
TOPSoccer programs can have very modest beginnings.
For those athletes not able to participate due to medical reasons, design a skills program that is rewarding, challenging and fun.
Variety of choices: Small-sided games (3 v 3, 4 v 4, 8 v 8, etc.), full-sided games (11v11), unified teams (ratio of challenged athletes to non-challenged athletes), indoor programs outdoor program, camp, skills only
Above all... keep it simple... KEEP IT FUN!
What have we done so far?
Christina McCoy, Kayla Landsberger, and Ann Landsberger attended the TOPSoccer Coaches Clinic led by Thomas Olivier on March 2, 2019 in Morgantown just before the WVSA Annual Meeting. At the meeting, Thomas shared with the group that he was overjoyed to have a TOPSoccer program coming to the panhandle. Shortly after, we received the go-ahead from Thomas to begin setting up the program.
Enthusiasm from the WVFC Panhandle Board has been positive with most Board Coaches offering to assist with the program.
Research and discussions with other TOPSoccer programs across the country.
Local Special Education and medical personnel have volunteered to assist us in any way they can. Donations have been proposed informally.
WVSA will provide specialized equipment at no cost.
Joe Burton added a 2-hour TOPSoccer event to the Spring Mills High School Calendar on 4/28 from 2:00-4:00
What do we need to do next?
The next step is to agree to fully support a TOPSoccer program through WVFC Panhandle which will require a BoD vote.
Once that has been settled, the next steps are:
1. Register the program through Jude Green at WVSA so she can set up the Affinity event and capture all the important information from every participant. Risk Management is critical and the ELAs for TOPSoccer registration collect all medical data necessary to provide a safe environment for every athlete. (The cost of the registration is $20/player and will be offset by donors and sponsors.) To participate in any event, parents will have to register their athletes through WVSA. This is for their protection and ours and is absolutely necessary. They will only have to register once.
2. Set up a data collection form for interested Parents/Athletes, Coaches, Buddies, and Sponsors AND a TOPSoccer informational webpage.
3. Create a schedule for the program that includes location/date/time.
4. Press Release / Advertising
5. Seek out sponsors and partners in the community to fund the experience for every player.
6. Train our coaches and Buddies using the US Youth Soccer TOPSoccer materials.
How do we start?
One way to launch the program is by hosting an initial EXPO style event where Parents and Athletes can meet the Coaches and Buddies and get a look at what we are about and what we have to offer. This could be held inside or outside and would be tremendous in getting the word out into our community. And we could pull it off relatively quickly.
- Athletes would check in and get a name tag.
- Opening introductions from staff and a few words about the mission of the program.
- Players can begin to cycle through activities.
- Staff available to continue answering questions and provide any explanatory materials requested.
- We can add on plenty of extra dazzle.
The goal is for parents to leave the event wanting to bring their athlete back to us. An event like this would mean all hands on deck to support everyone attending.
If we could do this once or even twice before the 4/28 slot at SMHS, that would go a long way towards establishing our dedication to TOPSoccer and presenting it as a PROGRAM, not a single event.
Going forward, we could proceed in several different ways:
- Hold a TOPSoccer series over the course of several weeks of the summer
- Hold more individual events
- Team with SMHS Small-Sided Summer Soccer Series and host (a) TOPSoccer field(s) at their weekly event throughout the month of July. (FREE SPACE)
- GOT AN IDEA? SHARE IT!