American Youth Soccer Organization
The American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) is a non-profit soccer organization in the United States for children aged 4 through 19. Headquartered in Torrance, California, AYSO has 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 50 paid employees at its national headquarters.
AYSO was established in West Torrance (A suburb of Los Angeles) at Jefferson Middle School in 1964 with nine teams. Today the organization claims membership of over 50,000 teams, with over 500,000 participants.
AYSO will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2014.
AYSO is a California nonprofit 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."
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 some 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. Here the AYSO National Headquarters are run by nearly 60 paid employees. They range from the National Executive Director (NED) to the National Marketing Director (NMD), and the Player Programs Coordinator (PPC). They also run the day - to - day accounting practices.
AYSO believes strongly in six basic philosophies:
- Everyone plays. Each child on a team is required to play at least one-half of each game, and many regions have even more stringent minimum play requirements.
- Balanced teams. AYSO believes that children enjoy playing more, and learn more from the game, when teams are as closely matched as possible. Regions make every effort to balance teams each season by assigning players to teams based on their relative skill levels.
- Open registration. Any child who wishes to play may do so, regardless of ability.
- Positive coaching. AYSO holds that children develop best when they are given encouragement, rather than being "put down." AYSO expects coaching to be positive, instructional, and encouraging at all times.
- Good sportsmanship. AYSO tries to instill good sportsmanship in all of its programs.
- Player Development. The goal of Player Development is to embrace the objective of improving the soccer skills and knowledge of every AYSO player, from VIP to U-19.
In the 1980s the policy Good Sportsmanship was adopted at the urging of Alan Witcher, a coach from the San Fernando Valley.
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 a number of new pilot programs to encourage the growth of extended play options. Currently, 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. More details about these programs are available at AYSO FLEX
Now one of the largest single youth sports organizations in the United States, AYSO comprises over 50,000 teams and 650,000 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 founded by Hans Stierle 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.
Positive Coaching Alliance, National Council On Youth Sports, USSF, MLS, NSCAA are just a few of the ten's of affinity partners.
- AYSO - The American Youth Soccer Organization website
- eAYSO - The American Youth Soccer Organization Online Database & Registration
- AYSOTRAINING - The American Youth Soccer Organization Online Training & Certification
- AYSO SOCCER CAMPS - The American Youth Soccer Organization Soccer Camps Registration and Informational Page
- AYSO STORE - The AYSO Store website