HOWELL – Howell Soccer Club (HSC), a local nonprofit organization, recently announced the addition of a specialized soccer program for athletes with special needs and disabilities called TOPSoccer. HSC will run nine weeks of Soccer Saturdays for special needs athletes, beginning in the fall.
US Youth Soccer TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) is a nationally recognized initiative “for young athletes with disabilities, organized by youth soccer association volunteers…designed to bring the opportunity of learning and playing soccer to any boy or girl, who has a mental or physical disability,” according to their website.
HSC’s implementation of the TOPSoccer program will make programming available for those ages 4 to 12, in addition to their intramural programming for those ages 4 to 18.
“We are extremely excited to be offering this initiative to our community,” said HSC Director of Operations, Ryan Foley, in a press release. “When we evaluate Howell Soccer Club’s role for the youth of our community, this program is undoubtedly a necessity.”
Foley’s idea to incorporate TOPSoccer into HSC developed after his visits to other nationally acclaimed programs all over the country.
“Our goal with this program is to become more engaged with the community, while promoting inclusive environments for all. While we have received praise from the community on this program, we are focused on encouraging involvement to be able to provide an excellent experience for as many athletes as possible,” said Foley.
“The focus of this program is to highlight the players’ ability, rather than their disability,” he added. “If we can impact the life of even one child through this program, then we’ve done our job.”
As this program will be offered for free, and as a community-based program, TOPSoccer requires volunteers. HSC requires one volunteer coach per every five players and one volunteer ‘buddy’ for every two players. Buddies can be anyone from middle school students to adults. However, coaches must be 18 years or older.
Coach and buddy training for volunteers who wish to join the program will take place on June 14 and 15 at the Southard Community Center.
For more information on this program or to register for the courses, you can visit howellsoccerclub.com.