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

AYSO Region 1187 - American Canyon


What Is VIP?


AYSO VIP Program Ensures Everyone Plays®

The AYSO VIP (Very Important Players) Program provides a quality soccer experience for children and adults whose physical or mental disabilities make it difficult to successfully participate on mainstream teams. VIP teams may include:
  • Blind or visually impaired
  • Amputees or with conditions that impair mobility
  • Mentally or emotionally challenged
  • Autistic
  • Down syndrome
  • Cerebral Palsy


Everyone Plays®

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 and may be co-ed. VIP teams can be put together with players who register based on mobility or ability. Older and younger players can also be separated onto different teams when numbers allow.


More on AYSO's VIP Programs

VIP Mission Statement
VIP Vision Statement
AYSO 6 Philosophies
Goals and Objectives of the VIP Program
History of VIP Soccer
Fast Facts of VIP Soccer
What Are Buddies?

VIP Mission Statement 

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 Vision Statement  

The vision of the AYSO VIP Program is to create VIP teams in every AYSO Region wherever possible and to maximize opportunities for VIP player participation where VIP teams are not available.

AYSO 6 Philosophies  

AYSO's philosophies are living tenets that separate it from other sports organizations. They are Everyone Plays®, Balanced Teams, Open Registration, Positive Coaching, Good Sportsmanship and Player Development.

Everyone Plays®
Our program's goal is for kids to play soccer so we mandate that every player on every team must play at least 50% of every game. It’s no fun to spend the game on the bench…and that’s no way to learn soccer!

Balanced Teams
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.

Open Registration
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.


Positive Coaching
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.

Good Sportsmanship
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.

Player Development
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.

Goals and Objectives of the VIP Program  

Players will have fun playing soccer
  • To introduce all skills by using games
  • To allow players to set the pace
  • To relax and be flexible
  • To keep everything positive

Goal: Players will understand the fundamentals of the game
  • To give each player plenty of opportunities to play the ball
  • To build skills on the success of previously learned skills
  • To involve family members in learning soccer fundamentals

Goal: Players will learn teamwork and fair play
  • To build teamwork and fair play into practice sessions
  • To encourage team identity by wearing uniforms and participating in team get-togethers
  • To reward positive effort when teamwork and fair play are observed

Goal: Players will increase their self-esteem
  • To establish individual, realistic goals with players
  • To encourage effort toward goals, no matter how small
  • To recognize player effort and achievement

Goal: Players will become more physically fit
  • To encourage maximum participation in physical movement for each player at his or her level
  • To facilitate player participation in off-season physical activities or sports

Goal: Players will meet and be comfortable with new people
  • To encourage parents to play a supportive, not active, role during games
  • To facilitate the development of positive player relationships with buddies and other volunteers
  • To utilize community helpers

History of VIP Soccer  

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.

Fast Facts of VIP Soccer  

  • Play on smaller field
    • U-6 size for younger players
    • U-8 or U-10 size for older players
    • Smaller goals (or a set of cones) fit the smaller field better
  • Equipment
    • Shin guards are required
    • Soccer cleats are optional
    • Size 5 ball
      • Occasionally play with a large ball (3 feet in diameter)
    • Have pinnies available
  • Schedule "Same" Games
    • Same day of the week
    • Same time (mornings are typically best)
    • Same field (allow for handicap parking)
    • Same direction (do not switch direction halfway through the game)
  • Use buddies
  • Coaches may be on the field
  • 1:1 ratio
    • Parent or parent designee of majority age must be present for each player
  • Always play short sided
  • Length of Game
    • Four 10-minute quarters
      • To be adjusted as needed
  • Play against
    • Other VIP teams
    • Mainstream team – U-10 though U14
    • A team of "buddies"
  • Be flexible!
  • FUN, FAIR AND SAFE are the words for VIP!

What Are Buddies?  

The Role of the Buddy

Buddies are non-disabled persons who assist VIP players on the field. Buddies who assist VIP players on the field have a life-changing experience. For the first time, perhaps, they are interacting with a player with disabilities. They witness the effort and determination as many players struggle with physical limitations but never give up. They learn to see and appreciate them as people, 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—not parents. Some nervous parents will find it hard to “let go.” This is why it is essential for buddies to introduce themselves at the pre-season parent meeting and to let parents know that their preferred role is a supportive – not active – one.

The best buddies are peers of the players: older elementary, middle school, high school, and even college students. As there will likely be a wider age range when just getting started—unless there are enough players to divide into age groups—recruit an age range of buddies to facilitate appropriate pairing. 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.
  • Peer buddies learn and grow from performing a positive, affirming service.

Annual Registration
Buddies, as with all volunteers in AYSO, must be registered before they participate with the VIP players at practices or games. Each year, volunteers must complete the Volunteer Application Form, register with and be accepted by the Region where they plan to participate. Buddies under the age of 18 years old must register using the AYSO Youth Volunteer Application.

Be sure to take your signed application to the local registration day.

Training and certification is required by AYSO for all volunteers for their own protection and for the protection of the players. VIP buddies have two choices – they can attend a one-hour special VIP Buddy Training & Certification workshop, or if possible, attend the 2.5 hour VIP Volunteer Training. Contact your local Region to find out what training is taking place and when and where.

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