TOPS: Soccer for Disabled Youth
“Imagine a kids’ soccer game where a little girl has to be reminded to hold her position rather than going to hug the goalie. Where some kids get so focused on running that they run off the field. Where everyone cheers when the opponents score a goal… where a 4-year-old- goalie is blind and the most determined player moves down the field with a walker.” This quote describes TOPS – soccer for disabled youth.
Soccer is often referred to as the world’s sport, and youth soccer is the fastest growing sport in the United States. Despite soccer’s popularity, opportunities are lacking for both youth and adults with physical and mental disabilities. In response to this recognized need, US Youth Soccer, the governing body for youth soccer in the United States, created a special program called TOPS in 1991. TOPS stands for, “The Outreach Program for Soccer,” and is a community-organized, modified version of soccer. TOPS gives people with mental and physical disabilities the opportunity to not only play soccer, but to develop, compete and achieve success according to individual need.
A few real-life examples from a news article about Cincinnati TOPS demonstrate the impact soccer can have on children who have the opportunity to play. Emily Pennington, 5, is a blind child in the league and loves the cheering: “The ball has a bell in it, so I can find it. So I kick the ball and everybody laughs and yells ‘TOP Soccer.’” Katelyn Orcutt, 11, has the physical stature and mental ability of a 5 year old and her run is the equivalent of a fast-walk but she loves putting on her uniform, making friends on the field, and cheering for everybody. Emily Pennington, yet another TOPS player, was born without sight due to a genetic condition, yet as the goalie of her TOPS team, soccer has become a really important priority in her life – something her parents never expected.
We at Skyline are proud to announce that we will host our first TOPS season this fall and are excited to create an environment filled with meaningful physical and developmental learning opportunities through soccer – the world’s sport! Skyline’s program will be open for all youth ages 4 – 21 with a developmental or physical disability. Our season will kick off on September 5th and run through October 24th, and both practices and games will be on Friday evenings for one hour (the specific time and location have yet to be determined). We will need volunteers to help as buddies (buddies partner up with one player and help that player have fun, participate, and play to their individual potential during a practice) and coaches (coaches lead a small group through the practice). If you are interested in volunteering or if you would like more information to pass on to a potential participant, please email Maia@skylinesoccer.org.
Join Skyline Soccer Association Today
Voted One of Colorado’s Best Sports Organizations