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TOPSoccer For Athletes With Disabilities Comes to San Diego

The TOPSoccer program held its first annual event in San Diego with local soccer organizations on hand to help during the one-day event. The US Youth Soccer / Cal South TOPSoccer program is community- based offers players with disabilities and special needs the opportunity to train in a friendly and fun environment alongside trained ‘buddies’ — and, it is a great experience for everyone.

Youth Soccer: Cal South and Presidio Soccer League hosted its 1st Annual Presidio TOPSoccer Festival and Buddy Training on Saturday at Westview High School in San Diego. The event welcomed local members of the soccer community including special appearances by the San Diego SeaLions and Tijuana Xolos.

Cal South welcomed 38 TOPSoccer Athletes along with 74 youth soccer players who were helping out as Buddies volunteering at the event.

While the joys of scoring a goal and being part of the team are taken for granted by millions of kids in America, there are those who love to play and are not often awarded the same joys as others.

The simple smile that shines bright when a kid is having a good time or enjoys learning a new skill should be available to everyone and members from Cal South, Presidio Soccer League and the San Diego Development Academy were out in full force — making sure every kid at the TOPSoccer event had a great time, even if it involved splashing water instead of scoring goals.

“It is always very heartwarming to watch a TopSoccer event,” said Roy L. Carlson Jr, Cal South Executive Vice President.

“Everyone’s goal is to have fun. Although it was a glorious Southern California day, the sun paled in comparison to the brilliant smiles of everyone involved. I am always impressed by the enthusiasm of the volunteers,” said Carlson.

The TOPSoccer program is dedicated to providing opportunities for everyone to enjoy the passion and fun of the world’s most beautiful sport.

“I spent 10 minutes watching a volunteer buddy from the 2001 Del Mar Sharks team face shot after shot from her new friend. I’m not sure who had more fun,” said Carlson. “My sincere thanks to everyone who took part in what I hope will be an annual event.”

“We are so fortunate to be able to host an event that truly captures the love of soccer for everyone on the field,” said Christine Van Slyke, Presidio Soccer League Director of North/Central Girls.

“Inclusion, unity and respect are powerful ways to break down barriers in order to create a new soccer community. We would like to thank the athletes for inspiring us and thank the buddies for giving their best to the athletes,” said Van Slyke.

Christine Van Slyke, Presidio Soccer League Director of North/Central Girls with Gabby Giaconelli an athlete from Valley Center TOPSoccer.

“Thank you to our sponsors Presidio Soccer League, Cal South, San Diego Soccer Club, Valley Center Soccer Club and Mia Babson for their generous donations. Also we would like to thank all the volunteers — including Oscar Eusebio for San Diego Soccer Club — who helped make this event possible,” added Van Slyke

US Youth Soccer TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) is a community-based training and team placement program for young athletes with disabilities, organized by youth soccer association volunteers. The program is designed to bring the opportunity of learning and playing soccer to any boy or girl, who has a mental or physical disability.

San Diego’s Presidio Soccer League president Bob Turner

“Our first Top Soccer went great and it was awesome to see all of the kids having such a great time. I saw nothing but smiling faces the whole day and that is what it’s is all about,” said Bob Turner, President of San Diego Presidio Soccer League. “I want to thank Christine for her hard work and dedication in organizing the event as well as all of the sponsors, we couldn’t have done it without them. I look forward to making this an annual event for Presidio.”

Numerous booths with activities provided attending players and families with an opportunity to soak up the sun during a fun and friendly soccer day. Soccer City SD was on site along with the WPSL SeaLions and 35 Productions, Kona Ice and 067 Eatery.

WPSL San Diego SeaLions gave away fan swag and answered questions from players on how to become a professional soccer player.

According to US Youth Soccer, there are thousands of children with disabilities who need, and can be provided with, the opportunity to play soccer through the TOPSoccer program. Presidio’s 1st Annual Top Soccer event was a fabulous gift to the community and enriched the lives of all of the kids — TOPSoccer athletes and Cal South Buddies — alike

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Photo Credit: Diane Scavuzzo



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