The AYSO VIP Program provides a quality soccer experience for children and adults whose physical or mental disabilities make it difficult to successfully participate on mainstream teams. VIP teams may include:
- Blind or visually impaired
- Amputees or with conditions that impair mobility
- Mentally or emotionally challenged
- Down syndrome
- Cerebral Palsy
These players are Very Important Players (VIP) in AYSO. We recognize that all people need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. The VIP program offers that acceptance and carries our philosophy of Everyone Plays® to new heights - giving everyone a chance to play.
Kids with special needs are estimated to make up approximately 10% of the school-aged population and approximiately 20% of the United States population has special needs. Special schools and programs can isolate these persons, so the VIP Program has been structured to integrate our players into the rest of AYSO by providing a soccer season, and in some cases, using "buddies" - able bodied helpers - to assist players who need assistance, both on and off the field. Our goals for every participating player are:
- Have fun playing soccer
- Understand the fundamentals of the game
- Learn teamwork and fair play
- Increase positive self-esteem
- Become more physically fit
- Meet and be comfortable with new people
VIP helps more than just the players. Buddies and other volunteers increase their appreciation and understanding of individuals with special needs. They find their lives greatly enriched by their involvement with their new VIP friends. For parents thinking they would never see their children playing a sport or making new friends, VIP gives them joy and hope. They are able to relax and enjoy watching their children having fun like other kids, perhaps for the first time.
Teams can have as few as three players and may be co-ed. VIP teams can be put together with the players who register based on mobility or ability. Older and younger players can also be separated onto different teams when numbers allow.