The AYSO EPIC Program provides a quality soccer experience for children whose physical or mental disabilities make it difficult to successfully participate on mainstream teams.
EPIC Program Goals
These children are Very Important Players in AYSO. We recognize that all people need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.
The EPIC Program offers that acceptance and carries our philosophy of Everyone Plays® to new heights – giving everyone a chance to play.
Children with Special Needs are estimated to comprise approximately 10% of the school-aged population and approximately 20% of the United States population is identified as having some type of disability. The EPIC Program has been structured to integrate our players into the rest of AYSO by providing a soccer season, and using “buddies” – able bodied helpers – to assist players who need assistance, both on and off the field. Our goals for every participating player are:
- Have fun playing soccer
- Increase positive self-esteem
- Become more physically fit
- Meet and be comfortable with new people
- Understand the fundamentals of the game
- Learn teamwork and fair play
EPIC helps more than just the players. Buddies and other volunteers increase their appreciation and understanding of individuals with special needs. They find their lives greatly enriched by their involvement with their new EPIC friends. For parents thinking they would never see their children playing a sport or making new friends, EPIC gives them joy and hope.
They are able to relax and enjoy watching their children having fun like other children, perhaps for the first time.
Teams can have as few as three players and may be co-ed. EPIC teams can be put together with players who register based on mobility or ability. Older and younger players can also be separated onto different teams when numbers allow.
If you know of any children who are 14 years old or older who would like to earn community service credits for participating in the buddy system please contact our EPIC Coordinator.
Please also contact our EPIC Coordinator if you know any adults that would like to volunteer their time assisting with on-the-field coaching.