September 11, 2008
Soccer Program for Challenged Youth
Thanks to TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) many mentally and physically challenged youth in the Brandon area, from ages 5 years and up, will have the opportunity to be a part in a busy athletic season while playing soccer.
“The program is both social as well as athletic, designed for children and some young adults with disabilities the opportunity of learning the game and having some fun at the same time,” said TOPS local founder Ken Muzyk.
Muzyk explained that through the generosity and support of local businesses as well as organizations such as BAYSL (Brandon Area Youth Soccer League) TOPS, a national soccer program, will begin its tenth season this year on September 13, and will end on November 8, with a party as well as a trophy for each player.
As it was true in previous seasons the support of the community allows each player to be supplied with cleats, shin guards as well as uniforms at no cost while the program is carried out in a caring coaching environment.
According to Muzyk, TOPSoccer was designed not as a competitor to the programs run by other sports organizations for people with disabilities, but rather as a complementary program that works hand in hand with organizations like Special Olympics to expand the overall training and competition opportunities for young people with disabilities.
“This is an excellent program and it works well, which is why it has been able to exist for almost a decade. Muzyk said, adding, “We have on an average 120 athletes some of whom are in a wheelchair and many of them returning for the tenth time.”
While there are no practices during the week games are played on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until noon at the J.C. Handley Park Soccer Complex, located at 3104 South Kings Avenue in Brandon.
The sports complex is also the location for registration which is scheduled for September 20. Each player is required to bring his or her birth certificate, Individual Education Plans (IEP), and a parent or guardian with photo I.D.
Volunteers are still needed to help with several parts of the TOPS program. For more information please visit www.brandonsoccer.comor call 657-5271.