Spring soccer season is underway, and local soccer fields are full of players from Oak Park’s AYSO league. With its six philosophies: everybody plays, balanced teams, open registration, positive coaching, good sportsmanship and player development, the soccer league has been teaching children the right way to play since 1989.

Each year, over twenty percent of Oak Park youth participate in AYSO soccer, making Oak Park AYSO one of the largest youth sports leagues in the western suburbs. The league serves more than 1,700 players in the fall league and 900 in in the spring. AYSO players tend to join the league when they are young and continue to play all the way through high school, playing on teams for children in first grade all the way up through high school in U8, U10, U12, U14 and U19 leagues.

Oak Park AYSO is also the only league in the area to sponsor teams exclusively for children with special needs. AYSO’s V.I.P, or Very Important Player league is open to children ages four and up, with no upper age limit. Its mission is to provide a quality soccer experience for individuals with disabilities that make it difficult for them to participate in mainstream soccer organizations. V.I.P.’s are paired with buddies on the field to help them best enjoy the game.

Skills are not limited to being a player on the field. Oak Park AYSO offers many opportunities for continued growth and participation in the community. Many former and current players stay with AYSO to become referees, volunteer buddies for the V.I.P. program or volunteer coaches for the league. All Oak Park AYSO coaches receive free training, which includes concussion training and Safe Haven, AYSO’s safety program.

Now is the time to start planning for fall participation. Registration for fall leagues will be held at OPRF on Wednesday May 27 and Saturday May 30. Registration forms and on-line payment links can be found at www.opayso.org.

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