American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) registration signs have sprouted up all over San Diego County roads like summer mums. So, as Running USA, Road Runners Club of America, and USATF continue to discuss, develop, and implement kid’s initiatives to draw more children into the running fold, AYSO offers a proven map of success from which to construct the road ahead.
AYSO was established in the Los Angeles area in 1964 with nine teams. The dream of a group of devoted soccer enthusiasts who started the organization in a garage, today AYSO has more than a thousand leagues, 50,000 teams and more than 600,000 players, 40% of whom are girls. It also employs 50 people at the AYSO National Office in Torrance, California.
Local leagues vary in size from several hundred to several thousand kids, range in age from 4 to 18, and are divided into regions, areas, and sections nationwide. AYSO is structured around what they call their six philosophies: Everyone Plays™, Balanced Teams, Open Registration, Positive Coaching, Good Sportsmanship and Player Development.
“Everyone Plays™ and Balanced Teams is fundamental to the organization,” says Lynn Berling-Manuel, the chief marketing officer at AYSO’s national office. “Finding that balance is a little tricky, but what we do is follow the playground model. We divide the good kids, the medium kids, and the less good kids. Then we spread around each group into different teams. We learn that way that the good kids become the leaders, and the not-so-good kids improve. It’s a requirement of AYSO that every kid plays 50% of every game. Continue reading