Junior United Soccer Association: The Outreach Program for Soccer

The TOPSoccer program was created to train young people with disabilities, in a caring coaching environment, to play soccer; to serve as a feeder program to recruit, assess, and train players to participate in competitions offered by existing sports organizations for people with disabilities; and to mainstream higher ability players onto regular youth soccer teams.

By providing a community-based training and team placement program for young people with disabilities, organized by a youth soccer club, any boy or girl, who has a mental or physical disability will have the opportunity to learn and play soccer and become valued and successful members of the U.S. youth soccer family.

TOPSoccer was designed not as a competitor to the programs run by other sports organizations for people with disabilities, but rather as a complementary program that works hand in hand with other organizations to expand the overall training and competition opportunities for young people with disabilities. The TOPSoccer program often works as a feeder program: recruiting, assessing, and training new soccer players who would benefit from opportunities sponsored by these sports organizations. Many of the sports opportunities currently offered to young people with disabilities are school based. However, many parents of these young people would like their child to participate in the same community sports program as their non-disabled brothers and sisters - to wear the same club uniform, play at the same fields, go to the same awards banquets, and if appropriate, play on a non-disabled team. TOPSoccer can fill this need.

A basic TOPSoccer program consists of two vital components. The first is a field site where soccer players with disabilities can recieve high-quality training to help develop their soccer skills. Training sessins could include activities such as scrimmages, small-sided games (3 v 3, 4 v 4) and tournaments. The second component of the TOPSoccer program is an ongoing player assessment proces that places participants in the most appropriate playing situation, including placement on non-disabled, intramural and club teams, or involvement in programs established by other sports associations for people with disabilities.

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