Soccer is a sport that not only unites the world but is able to bring athletes of all levels together to enjoy precious time on the field.
Millions of kids around the world play soccer and experience the pure joy of scoring a goal and being outside on beautiful grass fields.
If you are a kid with disabilities, these joys can be elusive.
TOPSoccer, the outreach program for soccer, is a community-based training and team program for young athletes with disabilities, organized by youth soccer volunteers. This program brings the beautiful game of soccer to any boy or girl, regardless of mental or physical disabilities.
TOPSOCCER IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE YOUR BEST AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
This national US Youth Soccer program works with volunteers in their local communities with the goal of getting children with disabilities off of the sidelines and onto the fields to participate.
In Southern California, Christine Van Slyke works tirelessly to make soccer accessible for kids with disabilities and, in fact, the idea for a local TOPSoccer program came from her then 14-year-old daughter Briar who wanted to bring soccer to athletes with special needs in their small town. Launched in 2016, the Valley Center TOPSoccer program has made an impact on the lives of hundreds of children and is constantly expanding its reach.
This year, Van Slyke’s worked with Jesse Turner at Surf Cup Sports to make a special TOPSoccer event possible at the 2018 Surf College Cup Showcase.
“AT SURF, WE FEEL EVERY KID WHO ENJOYS SOCCER DESERVES TO BE PART SOMETHING SPECIAL,” SAID TURNER.
The TOPSoccer Showcase game at the 2018 Surf College Cup Showcase was immensely successful. 35 TOPSoccer athletes attended the Surf College Cup event and 7 teams were represented from San Diego including Vista TOPSoccer, Valley Center TOPSoccer, San Diego Soccer Club TOPSoccer, and South Bay AYSO VIP.
“The day was unforgettable for everyone,” said Van Slyke.
The players were divided into two teams and played a 40-minute game with referees provided by SDCRA. The soccer coaches and players all played together on the field.
Turner, who heads up Operations at Surf Cup Sports/Surf Soccer, believes it is important to give back to the community and is proud that Surf Cup Sports was able to work with TOPSoccer.
“Having these kids out on the fields during this elite level event can only increase their love for the sport. Surf College Cup is a tradition for many families and we were very happy to welcome TOPSoccer families this year,” said Turner.
One of the most influential and recognized youth sporting event organizers in the nation, Surf Cup Sports has a long tradition of philanthropy and over the years has donated over $7 million dollars in charitable contributions.
“SURF CUP SPORTS HAS THE ABILITY TO RESHAPE TOPSOCCER IN SAN DIEGO,” SAID VAN SLYKE.
“Surf Cup Sports has been amazing – Jesse Turner andJason Ash have both been instrumental in starting a long and wonderful relationship with TOPSoccer,” said Van Slyke. “We look forward to their new Surf TOPSoccer program launching this Spring.”
As well as hosting the TOPSoccer event, Surf Cup Sports donated Surf Cup Champion jackets and shirts to all the participating players and families.
The TOPSoccer athletes were excited with their new gear. According to Van Slyke, one athlete said it was the best jacket he had ever received.
“It is the unity of the players, on and off the field, that is most meaningful to Briar and me,” said Van Slyke. “I was looking closely at photographs and in the background, you can see club soccer players watching the TOPSoccer game with a smile on their face.”
“I can’t recall watching a game of soccer where there was a smile on the face of every player and coach on the field,” said Mark Spooner, Surf Soccer Club Director of Coaching – Girls Development Academy.
“It was a very memorable moment — to watch these TOPSoccer athletes take the field at the Surf College Cup, with hundreds of college coaches scouting elite players, and have them steal the stage,” said Rob Becerra, Director of Coaching – Girls. “I found it inspirational and humbling simultaneously.”
“WATCHING THESE KIDS HAVE A PASSION FOR THE GAME AND JUST PLAYING WITH PURE JOY WAS A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE,” SAID SPOONER.
“Thank you Surf Cup Sports for giving the athletes and their families a lifetime memory,” added Van Slyke.
Matt Hall, Men’s Soccer Associate Head Coach for SDSU worked with all the TOPSoccer athletes at the event. Hall is also the Director of Coaching for Vista Storm Soccer Club.
“Having TOPSoccer athletes involved with Surf Cup was absolutely fantastic,” said Hall. “We practice every week, but don’t have many opportunities to play games so for our players to be able to play a match at a tournament as prestigious as Surf Cup was amazing. It was truly a great day for all involved, and Vista Storm TOPSoccer is grateful for those who made it happen.”
In addition, coach Jorge Navarro also worked to make this event a total success
Van Slyke is also a Director of the San Diego Presidio Soccer League, one of the largest youth soccer leagues in the USA.
Related Youth Soccer News: PRESIDIO’S TOPSOCCER FESTIVAL
For Volunteering opportunities or for parents who have children with special needs and are looking for a sports program in their area, please reach out to Christine Van Slyke by visiting Valley Center TOPSoccer