Are you living your dreams? When parents are expecting a child, they have dreams for their unborn baby. They dream of a super athlete, a great scholar, and a popular child who will group healthy and happy. They dream of dates, high school graduation, college, marriage and grandchildren. When their child is born, they incorporate their child's dreams into their own. So dreams change as their child grows. Sometimes dreams disappear when they lose their child. Their dreams are gone forever.
When a child with "special needs" is born to parents, their dreams change dramatically. Dreams are replaced with the reality that their child will have to struggle with health, school and acceptance. With such challenges, these parents can create new dreams. TOPSoccer is part of that dream. TOPSoccer (which stands for The Outreach Program for Soccer) is a community-based soccer program for young athletes with physical and mental disabilities athlete that provides a safe and fun environment for their child to participate in organized sports. These athletes compete with athletes of similar abilities. Any player, ages 4 and up, who possesses a physical or mental disability that limits their ability to perform at the level of play they have chosen to participate is eligible for the program. Emphasis of this program is on development, training, and providing meaningful participation rather than on competition.
TOPSoccer's goal is to enable the thousands of young athletes with disabilities to become valued and successful members of New Jersey Youth Soccer. The TOPSoccer program has been available to these athletes in Junior United Soccer Association since 1992. Programs have been started in Mount Laurel, East Brunswick, Chester and more towns around the state. But the need for more programs remains. There are many athletes with "special needs" that need a place to play. And they need teams to compete against.
A successful TOPSOCCER program has the following:
• Placement of players by ability not age
• Highlight players' ability rather than their disability
• Make players have a meaningful experience, not just a token player
• Make players achieve desired goals without assistance
• and FUN! FUN! FUN!
Come be a part of our dream. The dream where every child who wants to play can play at his/her own level with players of similar abilities. You can make dreams come true!!! Contact the New Jersey Youth Soccer TOPSoccer chairperson to learn how you can make a difference.
Additional information can be obtained by visiting the US Youth Soccer TOPSoccer site where you can find informative resources such as Parent's Guide and Grant application to start a program in your league.