Off Central: Chandler soccer club wants kids with all abilities to play
CHANDLER, Ariz. — TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) is designed to meet the needs of children and young adults who have physical and/or intellectual disabilities.
The program stems from Legacy Soccer Club in the East Valley and is geared towards player development rather than competition.
Different competitive club teams rotate weeks and train with their TOPSoccer buddy.
“We have kids ranging from mild to severe disabilities,” program coordinator Jason Hall said.
TOPSoccer is designed to bring the opportunity of learning and playing soccer to anyone 5 and older who has a mental or physical disability.
The basis of TOPSoccer is a modified version of the game, specifically altered to allow full participation and enjoyment for each participant.
“The overall goal is soccer for everyone,” Hall said.
“We have a lot of TOPSoccer athletes who have siblings playing sports and they usually had to sit on the sidelines and watch. This program allows them to fully participate.”
Hall coordinates the Chandler-based program during his time off as a Phoenix police officer. He has spent 19 years on the force.
“Some days I am tired and don’t feel like being out here planning a practice,” he said. “But as soon as I step on the field and see my players it makes it all worth it.”
Legacy’s TOPSoccer program offers two eight week seasons during the Fall and Spring.
Kara Sweier’s daughter Zoe has been in the program for two seasons and calls it a motivator for her child.
“My daughter is a 6-year-old kindergartner who loves to play sports and just happens to also be intellectually and developmentally delayed,” Sweier said. “She has absolutely loved this program.”
The program emphasizes that everyone, regardless of a mental or physical disability, should be able to play the sport they love.
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