American Youth Soccer Organization
|Type||501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity|
|Founder(s)||Hans Stierle, Bill Hughes|
|Key people||Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, National Executive Director
Steven Meisberger, Chief Financial Officer
Lynn Berling-Manuel, Chief Marketing Officer
|Area served||United States (primarily)|
|Focus(es)||child-first and child-focused youth soccer organization|
|Method(s)||regional youth soccer programs, coaching and referee training programs, administrative training and operating systems to support volunteers.|
|Members||630,000 children, 50,000 teams, 80,000 coaches|
|Motto||"World class youth soccer programs that enrich children's lives"|
The American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) is one of the two main national organizations in youth soccer in the United States for children aged 4 through 19.  Over 50 years ago, AYSO was established as a non-profit soccer organization in West Torrance (a suburb of Los Angeles, California) at Jefferson Middle School in 1964 with nine teams. Today the organization claims membership of over 50,000 teams, with over 630,000 participants. 
AYSO is Headquartered in Torrance, California and has developed local programs known as "regions" in all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago. The organization is run primarily by volunteers at its constituent local levels, with approximately 60 paid employees at its national headquarters.
- 1 Structure
- 2 AYSO National Office
- 3 Programs
- 4 Growth
- 5 History
- 6 Sponsorship
- 7 Affinity partners
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
AYSO is a California non-profit corporation. Local programs, which are called regions, are not separately incorporated. However, they are given significant autonomy in management of their operations, as long as they are in compliance with AYSO's Bylaws, National Rules and Regulations, and Policy Statements. Each region is managed by a regional commissioner in conjunction with a regional board. Groups of regions in close proximity comprise an area, which is managed by an area director in conjunction with an area board. Areas are grouped into 14 sections, each managed by a section director in conjunction with a section board. In addition, some regions administered directly by the National Office, particularly those outside the United States, are part of the so-called "Section 99."
The governing body of AYSO is its National Board of Directors (NBOD), which operates similarly to other boards of directors. Additionally, AYSO also has a number of National Commissions, and their respective Chairpersons, provide the National President and National Board of Directors with advice and recommendations on coaching, refereeing, management, tournaments, marketing, eAYSO and development. The advice includes analysis of the impact of proposed or actual program changes including cost and financial impact at the national and local levels; on the specific discipline and community of practice; on other disciplines and national programs; on the standing and perception of AYSO as a national organization within the greater soccer and sports communities and on other potential or actual partners and like-minded organizations.
Regional commissioners, area directors, and section directors, as well as members of the National Board of Directors (NBOD) and certain "Special Directors," are the executive members of AYSO and vote each year for the NBOD, which consists of eleven members elected for staggered three year terms. The votes are cast, in person or by proxy, at the National Annual General Meeting, generally held over Memorial Day Weekend. Executive members separately vote for a member of the NBOD to serve as National President. Executive members are all volunteers.
AYSO is mostly run at local levels by teams of volunteers, including administrators, coaches and referees, many of whom are parents or family of the youth they coach. The AYSO National Office, which consists of approximately 60 paid employees, is based in Torrance, California and provides programs for instruction of coaches and referees and child protection education to AYSO volunteers. AYSO is affiliated with the United States Soccer Federation.
AYSO National Office
The AYSO National Office is located at 19750 South Vermont Ave. in Torrance, California. The AYSO National Headquarters are run by nearly 60 paid employees who support the regions and their approximately 250,000 volunteers.
The AYSO Coaching Program provides training and certification resources to volunteer coaches. The program is designed to promote one of AYSO's guiding philosophies, namely "Positive Coaching". Age-specific coaching courses provide training for coaches at every level of experience using manuals, handouts and outlines, supplemented by local instruction programs, camps and clinics held throughout the country, throughout the year. 
The AYSO Officiating Program provides training for volunteer referees in more than just the Laws of the Game to help ensure officiated games are safe and enjoyable for everyone: the players, the coaches, the spectators, and the referees. There are Six levels of AYSO referee training with USSF cross-certification. Training for referee instructors, administrators and assessors is provided using online resources including video and workbooks for new referees supplemented by local instruction. The AYSO Officiating Program also includes a youth referee program.
The AYSO Management Program is designed to facilitate the smooth running of AYSO at the local level by providing practical management training for its volunteers. Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced Regional Management courses teach AYSO's league administrators how to manage their local programs. AYSO also provides in-depth operational manuals to assist administrators at every level their AYSO program. The Board and Staff Introductory Certification (BASIC) audiovisual presentation gives regional volunteers a basic understanding of their duties. 
The AYSO Expo is an educational conferences conducted annually for each of AYSO's geographic sections. It provides Workshops, training seminars, motivational speakers, a vendor show and a forum for the exchange of ideas and information among AYSO volunteers and staff. 
Very Important Player (VIP) Program
AYSO's Very Important Player (VIP) program offers children and young adults with disabilities the opportunity to play soccer at their own pace. The practices and games are geared to their needs - with fewer and more flexible rules - allowing for a successful sport experience. Since 1991, AYSO has helped regions and areas establish "VIP" programs for players whose physical or mental disabilities make it difficult to successfully participate on mainstream teams. As of 2014, over 3,700 VIP players participate nationally. 
Safe Haven Child & Volunteer Protection Program
The AYSO Safe Haven Child & Volunteer Protection program trains and certifies volunteers and staff in their positions through AYSO's Safe Haven program, AYSO volunteers are afforded protection under the federal Volunteer Protection Act of 1997. AYSO's volunteer application and screening process reduces the likelihood of abuses occurring while kids are participating in AYSO soccer programs. AYSO's certification programs are accredited by the National Association of Sports and Physical Education (NASPE), providing universal recognition and validity from colleges, universities, high school athletic associations, national governing bodies of sport, youth sports organizations, and others.
In some regions, after the regular open registration season ends, All-Star teams and tournament teams are formed in the separate divisions from the most skilled players in the league. Other regions and areas have parallel "extended play" programs that operate at the same time as the standard primary program. 
On May 4, 2009, AYSO announced the launch of AYSO FLEXTM as an umbrella for new pilot programs to encourage the growth of extended play options. Regions and area are permitted to apply to pilot "Extra" programs, to operate at the same time as the standard primary program. Under the Extra program, there are two options: "Concurrent", in which players must play in the standard primary program to participate in Extra; and "Side-by-Side", in which players participate only in one or the other program.
Now one of the largest single youth sports organizations in the United States, AYSO comprises over 50,000 teams and 630,000 players, all supported by 250,000 volunteers. All players on a team are required to have the opportunity to play at least one half of every game. In many regions the requirement is 3/4 of a game where mathematically possible. There are often two seasons a year, and teams are required to be formed new each year and balanced so that all teams are roughly equal in skill and ability of players. Players are taught the ethics of good teamwork and good character. AYSO has programs to encourage good sportsmanship not only among players and coaches, but also from fans and parents.
AYSO was co-founded by Hans Stierle and Bill Hughes with the support of Ted McClean, Ralph Acosta and Steve Erdos in 1964.    Stierle organized youth soccer games for the Los Angeles Soccer Club, a German club in North Hollywood that played against other local ethnic (mostly European) clubs.
To avoid the cross-town trip to the games, Stierle thought to get boys in his Torrance suburb interested in the world's most popular game. The first AYSO league started with nine teams, and stressed open registration: "Anyone can sign up; you do not need to belong to one of the ethnic clubs."
Stierle's own team had strong players from the LA Soccer Club team (including Sigi Schmid, who went on to play and coach at UCLA and coach the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders FC), and won or tied nearly all its games. To even things out and make the experience more competitive and enjoyable for the other teams, the policy of Balanced Teams was adopted, whereby the stronger players were distributed around the league. This had a slightly perverse effect, as some weaker players who formerly played every minute were forced to the bench by the newly arrived stars. To overcome this, the policy "Everyone Plays" was adopted, which mandated at least half a game for all players. That, in turn, led to AYSO games being divided into "quarters" for the purpose of monitoring substitutions.
AYSO operates through player fees collected by the local regions and various sponsor categories. Premier sponsors include Score Sports (uniforms), Shutterfly, and Herbalife. Fold-a-Goal, People-to-People and Sports Pins International are preferred sponsors. UK International (AYSO Soccer Camps), Sator Soccer (AYSO Store), Crown Awards and Dinn Bros are licensees. 
AYSO partners include: Positive Coaching Alliance, National Council On Youth Sports, Character Counts Coalition, US Soccer Federation, US Soccer Foundation, Major League Soccer, National Soccer Coaches Association of America, and the National Recreation and Park Assocation. 
- United States men's national under-17 soccer team
- United States women's national under-17 soccer team
- United States Youth Soccer Association
- US Youth Soccer National Championships
- , Retrieved on 31 March 2014
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- "AYSO Programs". American Youth Soccer Organization. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
- "About VIP". AYSO. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- Messner, Michael (2009). It's All for the Kids: Gender, Families, and Youth Sport. Los Angeles, California, USA: University of Calirornia Press. p. 18. ISBN 0-52-025708-1.
- "AYSO FLEX". AYSO. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- Kiuchi, Yuya (2014). Soccer Culture in America: Essays on the World's Sport in Red, White and Blue. Jefferson, North Carolina, USA: McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 14. ISBN 0-78-647155-7.
- Engh, Fred (2002). Why Johnny Hates Sports. USA: Square One Publishers. p. 29. ISBN 0-75-700041-X.
- "AYSO - The Volunteer Model Lives On". Soccer America Magazine. 2009-07-01. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
- "AYSO Sponsors". American Youth Soccer Organization. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
- "AYSO Partners". American Youth Soccer Organization. Retrieved 31 March 2014.