VYSA and the State Referee Program mourn the loss of a beloved volunteer, Brenda Down, who passed away on Sunday, August 13, 2006, at her home in South Carolina. Brenda’s husband, Jim, who passed away a few years ago, was a certified referee for many years and was a very involved soccer official. Both Brenda and Jim were strong supporters of our referee program particularly those activities which affected youth referees.
The family asks that memorial contributions be sent to VYSA's TOPSoccer Program. Send donations to: VYSA at 2239-D Tackett’s Mill Drive, Woodbridge, VA 22192, in memory of Brenda Down.
VYSA TOPSoccer: An Overview
by Dave Williams
In its 2002 Report to Congress, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs reported that there are approximately 180,000 children with disabilities between the ages of 3 and 21 within the boundaries of VYSA (i.e., the State of Virginia and the District of Columbia). With these numbers in mind, the overarching mission and primary goal of VYSA TOPSoccer is to initiate, grow and sustain as many individual TOPSoccer Programs in VYSA-affiliated soccer clubs and associations as is possible in order to include as many children with special needs as we can and to provide to them the most wonderful, meaningful and FUN soccer experience in any way that we possibly can.
As the result of broad and effective outreach activities by VYSA’s TOPSoccer Chairman and TOPSoccer Committee, and with the full backing and support of the VYSA President and Board of Directors and administrative staff, VYSA TOPSoccer has grown from 1 program to 16 programs in 15 VYSA-affiliated soccer clubs and associations since January 1, 2002.* Six of these 16 programs are brand new and are currently registering players for the first time for the upcoming Spring season. The other 10 VYSA-affiliated TOPSoccer programs are already operational and growing and currently involve 195 children between the ages of 4 and 19 with a wide variety of mental and/or physical disabilities, more than 60 adult volunteers and over 260 youth volunteers (buddies). With the above overall mission and goal in mind, VYSA TOPSoccer hopes to have an additional 5-10 new TOPSoccer programs up and running by the end of 2004. Finally, VYSA TOPSoccer hopes to become one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing TOPSoccer Programs in USYS in terms of the number of individual programs as well as strong growth within each of those programs (i.e., increased numbers of TOPSoccer athletes, youth buddies, and adult volunteers).
It is clear that we all recognize the global impact of soccer, the world's most popular sport. It is also equally important that we recognize the rich tapestry of people who make up "The Beautiful Game" because soccer is clearly as diverse as the people who play, coach, manage, or simply love to watch and enjoy the game. Our TOPSoccer children are also a part of that very colorful fabric and by working with them, by playing with them, by coming to know them up close and personally, we are able to share in their excitement, their enthusiasm, their energy, their joy. Our involvement with TOPSoccer allows us to recognize and understand better the richness and strength of fiber that these wonderful children weave into our soccer tapestry – it’s something that just can’t be appreciated from afar. In the end, we are indeed afforded a unique opportunity to enrich their lives, our lives and ultimately our game, which is, in its most simple and basic form, a child playing with a ball.