Our goal here at AYSO is for every child to have the opportunity to play soccer. The VIP (Very Important Player) program provides a great soccer experience for children and adults whose physical or mental disabilities make it difficult to participate on mainstream teams. VIP teams can include individuals who are blind or visually impaired, or have limited mobility, autism, Down Syndrome or cerebral palsy. The program is run entirely by volunteers.
VIP works by creating teams made up of VIP players and “buddies” to help them on the field. The teams are organized by ability, size, or gender according to the needs of the Region. Fields and game times accommodate the players. Jerseys, banners and all the standard soccer gear can be part of the experience.
Our hope is that VIP will help the athletes gain confidence, learn teamwork and the rules of the game, and enjoy physical exercise. Flexibility is a key component to administering the program. Overall, the VIP experience is meant to be fun, fair and safe for the athletes.
Team sports are one of the defining experiences of childhood. Weekday practices, Saturdays on the field, winning, losing, and the excitement of play are all part of growing up. VIP makes it possible for children with disabilities to enjoy these rites of passage.
Not every AYSO Region has a VIP program in place – but with a group of dedicated volunteers, it can be set up anywhere. Adding a VIP program is like adding a division, and though high volunteer numbers are needed, there is no minimum requirement for players.
One of AYSO’s core philosophies is “Everyone Plays’” and VIP supports that incentive. For more information, please call (800) 872-2976 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.