If your child is itching to play soccer this year, there's a good chance it could be under the AYSO umbrella.
AYSO--which stands for American Youth Soccer Organization--is one of the largest youth sports organizations in the world. According to the AYSO website, more than 50,000 teams and 650,000 players compete in AYSO in all 50 states. The organization caters to youths ages 4-19.
Signing a child up for soccer can be a little stressful simply because you don't completely know what you're getting into. If AYSO is in your area--and you can look here to see for yourself--then here are some answers to questions you may have, courtesy of the AYSO website.
When does AYSO play?
It depends on where you are in the country. The most popular season is the fall (with signups in the spring) but it varies by location.
How is AYSO set up?
The AYSO headquarters are in Southern California. Below the AYSO national staff is sections, and among the sections are different areas, and among the areas are different regions. The regions are considered the "foundation" of AYSO and are basic community programs that you are likely to be involved in. Your local region is led by a Regional Commissioner, who runs the region within the framework of AYSO's philosophies, rules and regulations and bylaws.
The size of regions vary by area, but AYSO claims that regions can have anywhere from 200 to 5,000 players.
Will my child play even if he or she is still learning the sport?
Yes. One of AYSO's strictest rules is that every player competes in at least 50 percent of the game.
What equipment will my child need?
Full-covered shoes and shin guards are mandatory for every player. Beyond that, it is recommended that each player has their own soccer ball. Jerseys, shorts and socks typically are provided by the AYSO region as part of the registration fee.
What size of ball is appropriate for my child?
It depends on your child's age. AYSO rules state that U5, U6 and U8 divisions will play with a Size 3 ball. U10 and U12s will play with a Size 4 and U14, U16 and U19 play with a Size 5.
How long will games be?
Again, depends on the age group. All ages play two halves. U5 and U6 have 10-minute halves, U8 has 20-minute halves, U10 goes 25 minutes, U12 goes 30 minutes, U14 goes 35 minutes, U16 goes 40 minutes and U19 goes 45 minutes.
How big will my child's team be?
That depends on the region, though AYSO passes down suggestions. It also depends on how many players are on the field at once. U19, U16 and U14 play 11-a-side soccer. U12 has nine on each side, U10 has seven on each side. U8 plays five on each side with no goalkeepers, while U6 and U5 play three players on each side with no goalkeepers. AYSO sets it up so that the younger the team, the fewer players on the field so everyone can get plenty of touches during their developmental years.
Who will be my child's coach?
AYSO coaches are volunteers in your community. Like most recreational youth sports, coaches are typically a parent of one of the players.
What is a parent's responsibility?
The AYSO has five "expectations" for parents of AYSO players:
- Support your child
- Always be positive
- Be enthusiastic and supportive
- Reinforce positive behavior
- Let coaches coach and referees ref