MULLICA HILL — Children with special needs now have more places to play soccer every week, just like any other child. In partnership with Harrison Soccer Club, NJ Youth Soccer held a TOPSoccer training and player jamboree event on Oct. 10 for volunteer buddies and children at the William Wilt Soccer Complex.
In total, more than 40 volunteers gathered in the morning to learn how to contribute to a TOPSoccer training in their own organization and nearly 100 youth participants from South Jersey TOPSoccer programs and more than 50 additional volunteers joined the afternoon celebration full of soccer activities.
TOPSoccer provides a curriculum to train coaches and volunteers to provide fun and engaging soccer activities for young athletes with mental or physical disabilities. NJ Youth Soccer offered free training and mentoring to the volunteer buddies, thanks to the generous donation from Frankly Legal. The program, designed by U.S. Youth Soccer, emphasizes player-specific development, training, and meaningful participation rather than competition and winning.
“We are proud that the TOPSoccer Jamboree creates an opportunity to help New Jersey Youth Soccer clubs develop a program for children with special needs with the goal of building physical literacy, fitness and, most importantly, self-esteem,” said Rick Meana, New Jersey Youth Soccer’s Director of Coaching.
“Through our work with the Harrison Soccer Club, South Jersey has an opportunity to cultivate a program that can enable young athletes with disabilities to enjoy playing in a safe and healthy learning environment,” he added.
“Youth soccer in the New Jersey area is extremely popular and it’s important that we offer programs that include all the children in our community,” said Troy Memis, Executive Director of TOPSports. “TOPSoccer opens the door for our children with special needs to get involved and look forward to playing with their group every week, just like their siblings. We know this program is about helping the players but we’ve learned the biggest benefit is how this has brought together our community.”
Kyle Muscarella, a TOPSoccer buddy and 12 year veteran of Harrison Soccer, is the epitome of bringing community together. He joined TOPSoccer two years ago to give back to the community that gave him so much.
“Harrison is a great soccer club and I am thankful that TOPSoccer allows me to have a positive impact on others who can’t do all of the things that we too often take for granted,” said Muscarella.
The event was conducted with generous support and donations from Frankly Legal, Adidas, Sky Blue FC, Topps Trading Cards, Ewing Sports, Kwik Goal and Healthy Habits for Kids. To learn more about NJ Youth Soccer’s TOPSoccer program, visit www.njyouthsoccer.com. To learn more about TOPSports, visit www.TOPSportsnj.org.