What is AYSO?
The American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) was established in the Los Angeles area in 1964 with nine teams. It was the dream of a group of devoted soccer enthusiasts who started the organization in a garage. Today, AYSO has more than 50,000 teams and more than 650,000 players. It also employs 50 people at its National Support and Training Center in Hawthorne, California.
Over the years, AYSO has created many valuable programs and concepts. Most notably, AYSO revolutionized youth sports with its "Everyone Plays" and "Balanced Teams" philosophies. In AYSO, each child who registers is guaranteed to play at least half of every game. To help create evenly matched games, all AYSO players are placed on new or "balanced" teams each year. These decisions are made based on each player's skill level and the overall ability of the team.
Since its establishment, AYSO has continued to grow and offer its membership relevant programs.
In 1971, two San Fernando Valley residents developed AYSO's first girls program. Today, a corporate sponsor has joined with AYSO as the organization's first official sponsor of its national girl's initiative. Currently, 40 percent of AYSO's players are girls.
In the mid 70s, an AYSO coach chartered new territory as he welcomed the organization's first player with Down Syndrome. As a result of this landmark union, soccer was introduced into the Special Olympics. Today, AYSO offers its membership the Very Important Player (VIP) program for kids with special needs. VIP boasts 75 programs and 1,500 players.
In 1995, two AYSO parents established the first AYSO program in Moscow. Today, the Moscow program has almost 500 registered players. In addition, an AYSO program was started in Puerto Rico in the spring of 1998 and another in American Samoa in 1999.
AYSO is supported by more than 250,000 volunteers. Parents donate their time as coaches, referees, team parents, administrators or sponsors. In 1998, AYSO unveiled its new Coach Certification and Safe Haven programs. Each was designed to strengthen the organization's role in child protection. Although AYSO is primarily a youth sports organization, it realizes the importance of providing a safe and healthy atmosphere for children. AYSO is continually working to improve the education of its volunteers in the fields of child development, human behavior, and sports psychology. A strong emphasis is placed on ethics and sportsmanship and the development of the whole child.
AYSO is a National Association of the United States Soccer Federation. Through the years, the organization has also maintained relations with organizations such as the National Council of Youth Sports, Girls Scouts USA, the National Association for Sports and Physical Education, People to People, Optimists International, Police Athletic Leagues, the National Alliance for Youth Sports, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, YMCA, the United States Soccer Federation, and the Character Counts program. In addition, AYSO works closely with 20 corporations that are part of the organization's National Team of Sponsors.
AYSO has been the leader in establishing groundbreaking youth soccer programs in the United States. The organization is proud to have paved the road for youth soccer and looks forward to meeting the challenges of the 21st century.
American Youth Soccer Organization's mission is to develop and deliver quality youth soccer programs where everyone builds positive character through participation in a fun, family environment based on the AYSO philosophies:
Our Region’s goal is for kids to play soccer - so we mandate that every player on every team must play at least three quarters of every game. No player on any team may play four quarters unless all players present have played three quarters.
Each year we form new teams as evenly balanced as possible because it’s more fun and a better learning experience when teams of similar ability play. It allows for each player to gain the experience of a wide variety of teammates of different skill levels.
Our program is open to all children between 4 and 19 years of age who want to register and play soccer. Interest and enthusiasm are the only criteria for playing. There are no elimination try-outs and nobody gets cut.
Encouragement of player effort provides for greater enjoyment for the players and leads to better-skilled and better-motivated players. A coach can be one of the most influential people in a child’s life, so AYSO requires they create a positive experience for every boy and girl.
We strive to create a positive environment based on mutual respect, rather than a win-at-all-costs attitude, and our program is designed to instill good sportsmanship in every facet of AYSO.
We believe that all players should be able to develop their soccer skills and knowledge to the best of their abilities, both individually and as members of a team, in order to maximize their enjoyment of the game.