AYSO forms soccer team for disabled

By DeeAnna Haney | Mar 07, 2014
Chris Amsler has played AYSO soccer for many years and is looking forward to playing on a new team starting in the Fall.

Everyone is considered a very important player in the newest AYSO soccer program set to launch in the fall.

The Haywood County Region 572 of the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) plans to start the VIP (Very Important Player) program, an adapted soccer program for players with disabilities.

Linda Estes, a special education teacher at Waynesville Middle School said it's something she has wanted to see in Haywood County for the past couple of years.

"What I hear a lot from parents is there aren't a whole lot of opportunities for their children in Haywood County and they have to travel to other counties to play sports and get involved in activities," Estes said.

Anyone from 4 years old and older with any type of disability that would make it difficult for them to play on a mainstream team are welcome to join a team. Teams will be formed based on size, ability levels and age. Players using wheelchairs, walkers and other assistive devices are also welcome to register.

AYSO operates with the philosophy "everyone plays" meaning every player must participate in at least half of every game.

The team leaders are looking for people willing to volunteer as coaches and students who would like to be buddy helpers.

"A buddy helper is a one-on-one partner who will help a player at practice and during the game whether that player needs help with skills or maneuvering the field," Estes said.

Being a part of the VIP program could be a valuable experience for any person with a disability, Estes said.

"Playing soccer or any group sport gives people self confidence and social opportunities that they may not have in any other setting," she said.

The first pre-registration sign up will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 11 at Haywood Community College. The pre-registration is to get an idea of how many people are interested in joining. Other pre-registration opportunities are from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 13; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 15; 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, March 17 and from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 19.

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