Youth soccer association volunteers have come together to form a community-based soccer program for young athletes with disabilities. US Youth Soccer TOPSoccer promotes the opportunity to excel in soccer to those with a mental or physical disability. Their objective is to allow every disabled boy or girl to feel accepted and thrive among the US Youth Soccer family. TOPSoccer provides the opportunity to thousands of children to ensure they get a chance to participate in the game they love. Their dedicated coaches and volunteers cater to the needs of every individual recognizing that every child is unique.
Bownet was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the 1st Annual Presidio TOPSoccer Festival in San Diego, CA. Like most TOPSoccer events it was a fun filled day of soccer activities, water games, a DJ, snow cones, face painting, prizes and so much more.
Christine Van Slyke, Board Member for the Presidio League, gave us an insight to how things work at TOPSoccer events.
What level of commitment does it take from a community to put on a TOPSoccer event?
“It depends on the size of the event. Fest's are once a year and requires a lot of planning, from reserving field space to contacting vendors that will provide the goods and services for the event. Of course, the more people and organizations who help, the easier it is for the community to plan and put on a TOPSoccer event.”
How many other TOPSoccer events will you put on this year?
“Our TOPSoccer program is very active on providing opportunities for our athletes to participate in tournaments, such as the recent Beach Soccer Jam and upcoming Pegasus Cup. Also, we will be sending coaches to the CalSouth TOPSoccer Coaches' Training in July. We plan on starting our next season, September to November, and be in San Diego Soccer Club's end of the year banquet.”
Volunteers are what help Cal South TOPSoccer thrive. “Buddies” are relied on heavily to help maintain the program, and can be anyone, from a family member to a friend with no soccer experience necessary. Castillo revealed that the highlight of this event was to do with the buddies interacting with the young athletes.
“The highlight of this fest was the beginning when the buddies we trained earlier that morning met their first athletes. It was amazing how the buddies and athletes bonded as if they have known each other for a long time. Buddies were nervous at first but the athletes, with their friendly and helpful demeanor, put the buddies at ease. It was very interesting that the athletes and buddies helped each other throughout the fest, encouraged one another, and had fun just hanging out.”
How does soccer bring the athletes and buddies together?
“Soccer is a sport that takes individuals from every level and teaches them it is about the company more than their skills that matter. This sport does not require everyone to be the best soccer player out there. We have buddies who never even played soccer but they feel welcomed because everyone is focused on having fun, not showing each other their skills. On the other hand, we have some amazing athletes who could probably play on the competitive level if given a chance. In the end, soccer is more about the smiles you see that stays in everyone's minds instead of scores which are quickly forgotten.”
Bownet has released a unique new soccer ball called Lite Ball. This Lite Ball helps a beginner youth player to build knowledge and confidence with the ball. The Lite Ball is 21-29% lighter than your average soccer ball, permitting young athletes to gain more control with the ball, helping them to master new techniques. Its lightweight technology also increases the effortlessness of shooting and passing.
What effect do you think the lite ball had on the athlete’s ability to play the game?
“Bownet's Lite Ball provides our athletes the ability to strike the ball farther with less force. Athletes who have mobility, coordination, or are very young can learn about striking the ball properly and not worry about kicking the ball as hard as they can. The athletes can then focus on learning the technical pointers in striking a ball instead of measuring their success by how hard they can kick the ball.”
We met up with Sandy Castillo, head of US Youth Soccer’s region IV to Cal South’s TOPSoccer program to get her perspective on the impact of Bownet’s new Lite Ball Technology in TOPSoccer events.
Christine Van Slyke’s closing statement:
“We are so fortunate to be able to host an event that truly captures the love of soccer for everyone on the field. Inclusion, unity and respect are powerful ways to break down barriers in order to create a new soccer community. We would like to thank the athletes for inspiring us and thank the buddies for giving their best to the athletes. Thank you to our sponsors Presidio Soccer League, Cal South, San Diego Soccer Club, Valley Center Soccer Club and Mia Babson for their generous donations. Also, we would like to thank Oscar Eusebio from San Diego Soccer Club and all the volunteers who helped make this event possible.”