TOPSoccer is a community-based program for young athletes with disabilities. Any child over the age of 5 with a mental or physical disability is welcome to join and will be able to enjoy a relaxed and fun soccer atmosphere.
The TOPSoccer program is organized completely by volunteers. It has been sponsored and hosted by the West Florida Flames Soccer League (WFFSL) since 1998. This sponsorship, along with the sponsorship of various individuals has allowed the program to be offered with no cost to the families of the athletes.
Fred Englehardt was on the Board of Directors of Brandon Youth Soccer League, but was recruited by the founding members of TOPSoccer to help them get uniforms, shin guards and balls for the athletes. “It has been over 20 years now, and I love every minute of it,” he said.
A large range of mental and physical disabilities can be accommodated. Each program is specially designed for the athletes in the program. Instead of being sorted into teams by age, children are sorted based on disability, so that each team can work together and have fun.
In order to keep the program light and fun, TOPSoccer does not keep score or keep track of team standings. Teams usually hold practices once a week, and the season lasts from mid-September to mid-November.
All of these policies are TOPSoccer’s way of trying to stick to their original mission statement: “to foster the physical, mental and emotional growth and development of America’s youth through the sport of soccer at all levels of age and competition.”
The Brandon TOPSoccer program was recognized as both the 2010 and 2015 ‘TOPSoccer Program of the Year’ by the Florida Youth Soccer Association, awards which the administration was very proud to have received.
Registration for the upcoming season will be every Friday and Saturday of August, beginning August 10. On Fridays it will take place from 6-7:30 p.m., and on Saturdays it will be from 9-11 a.m. Registration will take place at the WFFSL clubs located at 3104 S Kings Ave. in Brandon. All players will be required to show a copy of their IEP form when registering.
Any adult volunteer coaches or high school students in need of service hours are welcome to come to one of the registrations for more information about volunteering.
For more information, contact Ken Muzyk at 657-5271, or email Fred Englehardt at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any updates will be posted on the Brandon TOPSoccer Facebook page.