The AYSO National Games are famous for creating friendships, but the 2014 Games helped form a bond that provided new ideas on creating more playing opportunities for players in the VIP (Very Important Player) program.
Jim Karpe, AYSO Region 611 VIP Coach from New York, brought his team to Torrance, Calif. to play in the National Games. During the tournament, Jim spoke with other VIP coaches and administrators about their best practices. He learned that many VIP teams play against mainstream teams on a weekly basis. Previously, Jim had only been aware of special events between VIP and mainstream teams, not on a weekly recurring basis. Jim decided he was going to try and implement this strategy in his own VIP program.
Jim also met Steve Poretzky, the Section 10 VIP Administrator and VIP Task Force Chair. After the Games, on a trip to New York, Steve went to Central Park and watched Jim’s eight VIP teams play against U-10 to U-19 mainstream teams. There were a few hiccups with teams going to the wrong fields and unseasonably warm weather, but the day was declared a success and the games have been repeated weekly since then.
After watching the New York VIP games, Steve met with some of Jim’s Region 611 colleagues and learned that their program has been going strong for 16 years and that the player count has increased 125% from the initial 40 players. The group discussed how to grow and improve VIP programs, the use of buddies, volunteer training, playing against mainstream teams and more. That original visit to the National Games grew into an exchange of information discovered that will hopefully help grow VIP programs in the future.
For more information about the AYSO VIP Program and/or details of VIP versus mainstream, click here.