TOPSoccer’s main focus is to provide an environment for kids with all different kinds of disabilities to play soccer together, in one place, in one field.
“TOPS is a way for young high school students to come out and volunteer and close the gap between the non-disabled and the disabled community. Once the kids come in to the program they realize that disabled kids are actually very similar to themselves,” Sandy tells us.
Their first event was back in 2002. Sandy says that the only difference is playing level. High School kids coming in to play with disabled kids is like Pro’s playing with High School kids. “We don’t just play traditional soccer though. We play Soccer Tennis, target wall shooting, hoola hoop games, ‘Skee Ball Soccer’, we have a freaken blast! Last year was the 25th anniversary and we brought in super-sized water guns. The kids have the super big water guns and the coaches have little pistols. It is non-stop laughter,” Sandy tells us as she laughs loudly. “We top it off with a great lunch form the Rotary Club. They cook us a huge bbq. Kids go home with an event t-shirt, medal, and a big smile. All free.”
We asked Sandy what kind of disabilities qualify for the TOPSoccer program.
“We take any child of any age of any organization with any kind of disability. And the truth is that we all have some form of disability. We all need help with something. Our place is a place where anybody comes in and not looked at differently or judged. The child first over everything. A disability does not define who the child actually is. It is simply a challenge that we take on to find a way around.”
“Parents get told ‘your child can’t, your child won’t.’ We say, ‘Your child can. Your child CAN play soccer.’ We simply make some rule adjustments in order to allow everyone to play. For example, if a kid is in a wheelchair, we make new rules. We get them giant foots on a pole and we even put shin guards on them and if they can use their hands, they are able to swing the foot stick and be fully involved in the game.”
Sandy tells us she was lucky enough to find her passion and her dream is to have a program in every city of Southern California.
TOPSoccer is currently funded in part by Cal South and registration fees are paid for by parents and local soccer clubs.
We asked Sandy why she chooses Bownet Soccer Goals in her events.
“Many reasons,” she says. “They are easy to set up and take down. Pulling them around are easy and light. However, the biggest thing for the program is the safety issue. They are the safest goals out there. Kids can’t hang on them or get hurt on them and that’s the main reason we go with Bownet. And the added value is that if you don’t have a storage unit it doesn’t matter. I fit my goals in my Corolla! The customer service is absolutely fantastic too. You guys have always done everything in a timely manner, no questions asked!”
TOPSoccer's upcoming festival is July 9th at Wagner Elementary School in Placentia, CA. They need volunteers so please sign up if you’re local! All details for players and volunteers can be found here.