TOPSoccer – A Whole New World

Last Sunday, my son had his first experience with organized sports. This opportunity came through a local soccer association, which is in its fourth year of participating in the TOPSoccer program designed by US Youth Soccer.

TOPSoccer is “a community-based training and team placement program for young athletes with disabilities, organized by youth soccer association volunteers.” In our area, it includes a five week indoor winter session, a week-long camp in June, and a six week fall outdoor session.

So I signed Michael up for the fall session, took him to buy a pair of shin guards, and headed to the playing field. We were given his uniform, and he promptly stripped off his shirt to put on the new one (I managed to conceal the fact that there were shorts as well!). Then he was matched up with his buddy, Charlie, and off they went to kick the ball around.

Once everybody was registered, the coaches divided the kids into teams and, after a few stretches, started having them run some drills. It was great to see kids of all different ages and abilities out on the field and having fun.

Michael responded pretty well to his buddy and the coach until the session was almost over and it was time for each player to attempt a goal against the goalie of their choice, usually mom or dad.

Not a good thing in his mind! He determined immediately that this was going to make him look like a failure and that everybody would then hate him. Thankfully, we all got through it and the coach has some ideas for working with him on this next time.

I know there are people who believe children with special needs should always be included with typical children and not have separate activities like this, but I am not one of them. I think each family has to make the decision as to what is best for their own child, and I am grateful to all the volunteers who have opened up a world that we might have been too nervous to enter otherwise.

Trish can be found writing here at 5MFSN every Friday in addition to hosting Try This Tuesday. You can also find Trish at her blog, Another Piece of the Puzzle.

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