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American Youth Soccer Organization Providing world class youth soccer programs that enrich children's lives.

Cedar Springs, MI & Surrounding Areas

VIP PROGRAM

AYSO Region 902 is proud to offer a very special program for developmentally disabled children and adults. Our VIP (Very Important Player) program provides a safe, fun environment with trained coaches, VIP Buddies, and volunteers who facilitate an enriching experience that the players and their families will cherish forever.

Everyone Plays & Everyone Wins

The mission of the AYSO VIP Program is to provide a quality soccer experience for individuals whose physical or mental disabilities make it difficult for them to successfully participate on mainstream soccer teams. What is successful participation? It should be defined by the player’s enjoyment and the safety of all team members.

VIP helps more than just the players. Buddies and other volunteers increase their appreciation and understanding of individuals with special needs. They find their lives greatly enriched by their involvement with their new VIP friends. For parents thinking they would never see their children playing a sport or making new friends, VIP gives them joy and hope. They are able to relax and enjoy watching their children having fun like other kids, perhaps for the first time! Teams can have as few as three players, may be co-ed, and can be put together based on mobility or ability.  Older and younger players can also be separated onto different teams when numbers allow.

HISTORY OF VIP PROGRAM

The AYSO VIP Program was officially launched in 1991 for players with physical and/or mental disabilities. At that time, and for some years following its inception, participation in the program was limited to ambulatory children through the age of 18.  Several years later, the ambulatory restriction was removed and the age limit extended to the length of time the player remained in school, which varied from state to state. In 1999, recognizing a VIP player's need for ongoing fitness and leisure activities into adulthood, the AYSO National Board of Directors removed the upper age limit for VIP players entirely. The minimum age corresponds to AYSO's age eligibility – currently 4 years of age by July 31 prior to the start of the playing season or, in some Regions with permission of the Section Director, by the date of the Region's first organized activity – camp, practice or game.

REGION 902 VIP PROGRAM

The VIP program uses AYSO-certified Buddies to serve as mentors to our players.  Buddies typically pair up with players on a 1:1 ratio; 2:1 if a player needs additional assistance. We believe the experience should be just like that of the Core program, which is why our VIP coaches arrange weekly games along with regional referees.  VIP teams play against each other, against our Core teams, and last season, we even traveled to play against another region's VIP team. 

The Role of the VIP Buddy

Buddies are non-disabled persons who assist VIP players on the field, and often have a life-changing experience! For perhaps the first time, they are interacting with a special needs individual. They witness the effort and determination as many players struggle with physical limitations but never give up. They learn to see and appreciate everyone and form friendships with them. They will most likely never view people with disabilities in the same way again. What an education… and it’s free!

It is essential to have a number of buddies on hand for beginning VIP players who will need them. The best buddies are peers of the players - older elementary, middle school, high school, and even college students - not parents.  There are several reasons why peers make good buddies: the players may respond better to peers; peer buddies begin to form friendships with the players; plus peer buddies learn and grow from performing a positive, affirming service.

We understand that some nervous parents will find it hard to “let go.” This is why it is essential for buddies to introduce themselves at the first practice or parent meeting and let parents know that their preferred role is a supportive – not active  – one.  Buddies assist our VIP players, and parents get an opportunity to sit back and watch their children play.

VIP Players in Action

BECOME A VIP BUDDY

If you would like to become a VIP Buddy or know someone who would, please let us know!  Contact our VIP Coach Administrator, Megan Reed, at [email protected]

PROGRAM FAQs

What is the cost of the VIP Program?
The cost for the program is $62.50/player.  This is made up of a $42.50 regional registration fee plus a $20 National Player Fee (NPF). The NPF is an annual fee, so if you sign up for the Fall and Spring seasons, your Spring registration fee would only be $42.50 per player.

Do VIP players receive full uniforms?
Yes, VIP players receive full uniforms, just like the Core and United AYSO programs. Uniforms consist of a numbered jersey, shorts, and socks.

When are practices/games?
Practices and games are held on Wednesday nights during the soccer season.

What is a VIP Buddy?
VIP Buddies assist during the games in which players learn soccer while meeting new friends, having fun and increasing skills and self-esteem.

VIP PROGRAM GOALS

Goal 1: Players will have fun playing soccer
Objectives:
- Introduce all skills by using games
- Allow players to set the pace
- Relax and be flexible
- Keep everything positive

Goal 2: Players will understand the fundamentals of the game
Objectives:
- Give each player plenty of opportunities to play the ball
- Build skills on the success of previously learned skills
- Involve family members in learning soccer fundamentals

Goal 3: Players will learn teamwork and fair play
Objectives:
- Build teamwork and fair play into practice sessions
- Encourage team identity by wearing uniforms and participating in team get togethers
- Reward positive effort when teamwork and fair play are observed

Goal 4: Players will increase their self-esteem
Objectives:
- Establish individual, realistic goals with players
- Encourage effort toward goals, no matter how small
- Recognize player effort and achievement

Goal 5: Players will become more physically fit
Objectives:
- Encourage max participation in physical movement for each player at their level
- Facilitate player participation in off-season physical activities or sports

Goal 6: Players will meet and be comfortable with new people
Objectives:
- Encourage parents to play a supportive, not active, role during games
- Facilitate the development of positive player relationships with buddies
- Utilize community helpers

National Partners

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Contact Us

Cedar Springs AYSO Region 902

13440 Ritchie Avenue, PO Box 667
Cedar Springs, Michigan 49319

Email Us: [email protected]
Phone : 616-822-3533
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