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TOPSoccer Connects Local Children With the World's Game

Children and adults alike laugh and giggle as their soccer coach leads them in a game of red light/green light. Later, more smiles are seen during a rousing rendition of 'duck, duck, goose,' after which practice concludes with smiles, hugs, laughter and the promise to return soon for another fun day on the soccer field.

The coach is smiling — he is under no pressure to win.

The players are smiling — with goals everywhere, nearly everyone has scored, and no one has won or lost.

The parents are smiling — seeing their children out on the field with the team, and the joy that is brought to their faces by every small achievement, and every step forward, is a reward far greater to them than any State Cup victory.

In the words of Shoeless Joe Jackson from the classic movie Field of Dreams, "Is this heaven?" No, Joe — it's TOPSoccer.

TOPSoccer — The Outreach Program for Soccer — is a US Youth Soccer program that enables children with physical and/or cognitive disabilities to play the World's Game. And next month, Washington Youth Soccer's TOPSoccer coordinators are giving coaches and buddies the chance to get involved!

On April 30, Washington Youth Soccer will host a TOPSoccer Coaches Summit and US Youth TOPSoccer Coaches Course in the Seattle area from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Topics will include working with children with autism, a typical training session, the TOPSoccer Buddy and two field sessions. A second Summit is planned for August in the Vancouver area.

Each Summit is designed to give coaches and buddies new to TOPSoccer successful strategies for working with children with disabilities, and the confidence needed to participate a successful TOPSoccer clinic.

In reality, TOPSoccer players are much like typical kids — they want to belong to a team, wear a uniform, hear the cheer of the crowd, and run through a celebration tunnel. And of course, just as with many young players, they are often more interested in the snack than the score.

Sometimes the "goals" achieved are seemingly minor: learning how to stop the ball, kicking it in the desired direction, taking two tries to get the ball across the goal instead of three.

Other times, the achievements are life-altering: walking with less assistance, communicating with others, progressing from a wheelchair to a walker. Of course, TOPSoccer alone does not help the players achieve these milestones — but combined with physical therapy and professional intervention, exercise through sports like TOPSoccer can and does help children make incredible strides year after year.

TOPSoccer participation brings many opportunities for fun. Besides typical training sessions like the one described above, local programs are invited to showcase their talents in summer tournaments across the state, including a skills showcase and fun, no-stress games. This provides the opportunity for growth and development for the more capable players, and allows all our players to experience the excitement of being part of a large, festival-style event.

Volunteer your time to help Washington's children with disabilities become part of the Washington Youth Soccer family, and make the next smile your own.

Want to learn more about becoming involved with Washington Youth Soccer's TOPSoccer program, or interested in starting a program in your area? Click here for more information or contact Marty Torres at TOPSoccer@WashingtonYouthSoccer.org or 253-752-5611.

 
Washington Youth Soccer

Washington Youth Soccer • 500 S. 336th St. Suite 100 • Federal Way, WA 98003
1-877-424-4318 (Toll Free) • (253) 4-SOCCER (476-2237)

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