VIP Buddy

The AYSO VIP (Very Important Players) Program provides a quality soccer experience for children and adults whose physical or mental disabilities make it difficult to successfully participate on mainstream teams. VIP teams may include:
  • Blind or visually impaired
  • Amputees or with conditions that impair mobility
  • Mentally or emotionally challenged
  • Autistic
  • Down syndrome
  • Cerebral Palsy
Buddies are non-disabled persons who assist VIP players on the field. Buddies who assist VIP players on the field have a life-changing experience.  For the first time, perhaps, they are interacting with a special needs individual.  They witness the effort and determination as many players struggle with physical limitations but never give up.  They learn to see and appreciate them as people, and form friendships with them.  They will most likely never view people with disabilities in the same way again.  

The best buddies are peers of the players: older elementary, middle school, high school, and even college students. As there will likely be a wider age range when just getting started—unless there are enough players to divide into age groups—recruit an age range of buddies to facilitate appropriate pairing. There are several reasons why peers make good buddies:
  • The players may respond better to peers.
  • Peer buddies begin to form friendships with the players.
  • Peer buddies learn and grow from performing a positive, affirming service.