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

AYSO Region 153 Tucson, Arizona

General Information - VIP

VIP Program is specially designed to support players with special needs.

The AYSO Very Important Players (VIP) Program provides a quality soccer experience for children and adults whose physical or mental disabilities make it difficult to successfully participate in the core program. 

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, 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.

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.

Goals and Objectives of the VIP Program

Goal: 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-together
  • 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 (U6 for younger players, U8 or U10 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; four 10-minute quarters, to be adjusted as needed. May play against: other VIP teams; mainstream teams (U10 through 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, 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 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 -older elementary, middle school, high school, and even college students - 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. 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

As with all AYSO volunteers, Buddies 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.


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

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Region 153

120 S Houghton, 138
Tucson, Arizona 85748

Email Us: [email protected]
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