By Brittany Wallace
TOPSoccer in Brandon is a fall program allowing young athletes with mental or physical disabilities to train and play soccer. This TOPSoccer program has been recognized as both the 2010 and 2015 TOPSoccer Program of the year, by the Florida Youth Soccer Association. The organization is proud about this, but the program goes deeper than the awards.
The Brandon program was established in 1998 by Ken Muzyk, Frank Figari, Al Snaider, and Fred Englehardt who were previously on the Board of directors for Brandon Area Youth Soccer League. They organized groups for boys and girls as well as a coed group, but did not have a group for children with disabilities. Not wanting those children to feel left out, they started the local TOPSoccer. The goal is to make young athletes with disabilities feel valued and successful in Florida Youth Soccer and also US Youth Soccer.
When asked about his greatest satisfaction from TOPSoccer Muzyk said, “The opportunity for mental and physically challenged kids to enjoy the sport of soccer.”
TOPSoccer is for boys and girls ages five and up with disabilities. It is a relaxed program, meaning no practices, no keeping score, and no team standings. It is all about the fun of the game.
This program is corporately and individually sponsored, so there is no cost to the parent. The West Florida Flames Soccer League (WFFSL) allows the program in its clubhouse and on the fields. They are the recreational parent club that TOPSoccer operates under.
All are eagerly welcome to TOPSoccer, including volunteer coaches, and high school students interested in community service. All that is needed for this is for a volunteer to go to one of the registrations for more information.
This season of TOPSoccer will start September 9 at 9 a.m. and run through November 18 at the WFFSL field. Registrations will take place on Friday August 11, 18, and 25 from 6-8 p.m., Saturday August 12, 19, and 26 from 9-11 a.m. at the WFFSL clubhouse located at 3104 S Kings Ave. in Brandon. At registration all players must show a copy of their IEP.
For information, email Fred Englehardt at firstname.lastname@example.org, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BrandonTOPSoccer.