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American Youth Soccer Organization




Letter from NED

Hear from AYSO’s National Executive Director Matt Winegar

ART DIRECTOR Jennifer Otenti

AYSO Section 10 VIP Festival

GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Larry Martinez Nick Kaufman

Read about the wonderful story of the long-time running Section 10 VIP Festival

ADVERTISING SALES Jared Cruz 424-221-7928 NATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS President: Michael Karon Vice President, Administration: Eileen Tabert Vice President, Risk Management: Maurice Miranda Vice-President, Marketing & Communications: Dan Howald Treasurer: Doug Ryan Secretary: Margie Close Board Member: Yvette Barrett Board Member: Cathy Farless Board Member: Donna Nelson Board Member: Randy Pittman Board Member: Jeff Ransom NATIONAL OFFICE DIRECTORS Transitional Executive Director: Matt Winegar Director of Finance and Accounting: Annette Nastri Director of Marketing and Communications: Yvonne Lara Director of Human Resources: Jill Meshekow Director of Sport and Development: Scott Snyder The AYSO Mission is to develop and deliver quality youth soccer programs, which promote a fun, family environment based on our philosophies: Everyone Plays®, Balanced Teams, Open Registration, Positive Coaching, Good Sportsmanship, Player Development.

PLAYSOCCER is published by the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) as a benefit of AYSO membership. Subscriptions are free to AYSO families. Editorial contributions are always welcome, but PLAYSOCCER assumes no responsibility for lost or stolen manuscripts, photographs, or other materials. © 2020 American Youth Soccer Organization, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any form, in whole or in part, without written permission is strictly prohibited. Nonprofit postage paid at Main U.S. Post Office, Torrance, CA. EDITORIAL OFFICES PLAYSOCCER, 19750 S. Vermont Ave., Suite 200, Torrance, CA 90502 playsoccer@ayso.org. Dear Members: All photographs, stories, and other materials are welcome and will be considered for publication in PLAYSOCCER. PLAYSOCCER reserves the right to editorial comment on unsolicited materials. If you wish submitted materials be returned, please indicate and send a stamped, self-addressed envelope with original correspondence. Please do not send one-of-a-kind photos, irreplaceable artwork, or other such materials as it is possible these items might be lost, damaged, or destroyed during the magazine’s lengthy production cycle. Unless otherwise requested, PLAYSOCCER reserves the right to list any contributor’s name, age, Region, and/or hometown.

From Ref in AYSO to MLS & Pros

We spoke with MLS Referee Jose Da Silva and got an inside scoop on his amazing referee story

Orange County Soccer Club is in Safe Hands with AYSO Alum Aaron Cervantes

Interview with O.C. Soccer Club’s young goalkeeping star

Defining Success

Mental performance specialist Katie McKee breaks down the best ways to define success for young soccer players

Pressing Masterclass with David Moyes

Our Partners at The Coaching Manual sat down with renown coach & former Manchester United manager David Moyes for a Q&A

AYSO United Arizona's Michael Hollar Wins 2019 National Coach of the Year Award

Long-time AYSO coach became a shining success

Finding the Perfect Fit

Learn from Molten Soccer on the best ways to find the perfect ball fit for your needs!

Soccer Clans, Clubs and Communities:Just What A Girl Needs

Girls Soccer Network Founder and Editor in Chief, Jennifer Gruskoff breaks down why soccer is a draw for young girls

Running through the AYSO Player Pathway

Follow us on Social Media! /AYSOsoccer






Learn about the AYSO Player Pathway that places each player in the best developmentally appropriate environment

Spring Coloring Contest

Print out & color this picture for a chance to win an AYSO prize!

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FROM THE TRANSITIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Dear AYSO players, parents and volunteers,

Matt Winegar

AYSO Transitional Executive Director

"We are all in this together as ONE AYSO FAMILY."


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I hope this finds you all safe and well right now. It has been a challenging time in our lives, and we have had to make some tough decisions in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we all know that our postponement of AYSO soccer right now will help stem the spread of this virus and get us back on the field to the game we all love. Although these times are tough, we at AYSO want to find ways to bring light to your day, so our team has brainstormed ways of bringing the field to you. Please check out our in-depth list of resources, featuring ideas, tips and activities you and your family can do during your time away from the soccer field. From at home training activities to some of our favorite soccerrelated movies (I’m a big fan of “Kicking & Screaming”) – there is something for everyone to enjoy. More than ever, AYSO will stay true to our vision and mission of enriching families’ lives during these times.

We also hope that you enjoy the wonderful soccer stories our Spring 2020 PLAYSOCCER magazine issue has to offer, and encourage you to share your favorite story with a friend, teammate or fellow volunteer to help spread good cheer. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and update you on our developing courses of action via our special Coronavirus page. Until then – stay safe and well. We are all in this together as one AYSO family. Sincerely,

Matt Winegar

AYSO Transitional Executive Director




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A handful of AYSO’s Very Important Players (VIP) are lining up for photos. Each player and their team are in the midst of a fun-filled day to celebrate the amazing love for soccer that they share.

the work of many other selfless volunteers ensures that the organization can continue to share this special program with their developmentally disabled children and adult communities.

What event brings together so many of AYSO’s most important players? It’s none other than the Section 10 VIP Festival and Steve Poretzky, Section 10 VIP Administrator, who are thrilled to see this event bring so much joy to everyone involved.

After first taking on the role of managing the festival in 2004, Poretzky has pledged that as long as he is Section 10 VIP Administrator, an event like this would be held every year. As promised, Poretzky has presented awe-inspiring festivals year after year and looks forward to his 17th festival this year.

The VIP program’s goal is to provide a safe, fun environment with trained coaches, VIP Buddies, and volunteers, who facilitate an enriching experience that the players and their families will cherish forever all done with love by volunteers. Poretzky’s role is to help make the VIP program available to as many Regions and families as possible in his Section. This is no small task with Section 10, an AYSO section comprised of 8 Areas and 60 Regions, representing approximately 60,500 soccer players and over 18,000 registered volunteers. Thanks to his dedication, he helps the Regions and Area VIP Administrators start new programs and properly train volunteers. This hard work alongside


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To ensure that the entire Section experiences this special event, the festival changes locations each year, which has resulted in numerous successes. “I decided to change the location of the Festival each year for several reasons including: • Equalize travel distance over time • Spread awareness about VIP by involving a different Region and local community each year. “Each year we invite local and regional politicians and press to join us. We’ve been successful in increasing the visibility of the VIP program via the festivals. Last year, we hosted the Mayor of Palmdale, along with other city officials. In prior years, we’ve hosted

congressmen, city councilors, state assemblymen and others. We’ve also had articles published in local press and TV spots on the local news. As VIP Administrator, Poretzky has seen some of the most amazing soccer moments that AYSO has to offer. Firsthand, he sees the profound effect it has on players, parents and volunteers like himself. The amount of times his phone rings and inbox buzzes is a testament to the strong connection the festival has to those involved. “Parents and coaches begin contacting me each year around August to ask when and where this year’s Festival will be held. For many of the players and their families, it’s a change to travel a bit and participate in an event that is unlike their weekly training and game sessions. They get to see that they are part of something much, much bigger than what happens each week in their home region.” “I’m often approached at these events by the parents of buddies who tell me how much the buddy’s participation in the VIP program, has changed their life and their outlook, it has broadened their perspective and made them more comfortable with those who are difAYSO.org

ferent than them and with whom they don’t otherwise interact with in their daily lives,” said Poretzky. This is all possible thanks to the power of volunteers - the power that AYSO runs on. With over 80,000 parents, neighbors, relatives and friends across the nation dedicating their time in delivering an amazing AYSO experience, a positive difference is made in the lives of kids in our communities. A massive thank you to all the spectacular volunteers who continue to make the game of soccer, so beautiful - from program to program. “VIP Events and VIP Divisions in mainstream tournaments are all part of AYSO’s effort to provide more opportunities for play and participation. It’s part of the inclusive, “Everyone Plays” commitment of AYSO, one of the factors that make VIP such an important component of what AYSO does for its participants,” said Poretzky. Learn more about how you can provide a great soccer experience yourself by visiting www.ayso.org/get-involved/volunteer/. Everyone Plays with AYSO. PLAYSOCCER


From Ref in AYSO to MLS & PRO By Carlos Funes

Q&A with Jose Da Silva When Major League Soccer (MLS) kicks off their season this year, make sure to watch closely and look towards the sideline for a very special Assistant Referee running down with his flag in hand and eyes fixed on the game.

The referee to watch? Jose Da Silva, the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) referee from AYSO Region 345 - Okeeheelee Park, Florida.

AYSO Region 345 out of West Palm and I signed up to become a volunteer regional referee. I took the course just to do something on the weekend and a lot of my mates were refereeing too so I wanted to join them on the weekends. I took the course and I continued to play at the time. And I sort of liked it. I liked the concept of being a referee, being empowered to do the right things on the field. I was a very passionate player and as a referee I thought I could help place an emphasis on doing the right thing for the game - and I liked that.

When did you know that this is exactly what you wanted to do as a career?

It was in 2008. A year after I took the original class for AYSO I said, “This is what I really want to do.” So that was midway through 2008. Then my first event for US Soccer was at the Development Academy in 2009.

Jose Da Silva came across our radar when he was recognized by ESPN West Palm Deportes in 2019 as the “Hispanic Athlete of the Year”. Here he mentioned how grateful he felt to AYSO for giving him the valuable experience to start his career. Da Silva’s referee resume is well respected and he’s not slowing down any time soon. Now, as he prepares for his fifth season refereeing in MLS, AYSO spoke with Da Silva to learn more about his amazing rise to the professional ranks of refereeing.

Tell us how your refereeing journey got started.

It started through playing soccer. I played in middle school and in high school. In 2007, I came across


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“I liked the concept of being a referee, being empowered to do the right things on the field” What would you say is your most memorable moment refereeing as a youth player? It was getting away from everything on a Saturday to referee countless games from the first game by eight o’clock in the morning all the way till U19 games in the afternoon. We didn’t care about the amount of games, we didn’t care how tiring it was, it was a good feeling just being out there and refereeing games on a Saturday, pretty much the whole day. You’re getting sunburnt and didn’t really care at the time because you’re a kid.

You had your professional refereeing debut for an MLS match of Orlando City versus Philadelphia union in 2015. What was that experience like for you?

It was amazing, a great feeling. I was very nervous. I remember I had two off side decisions in that game but thankfully I was correct, but it is nerve racking. Your heart stops every time you put the flag up and you just pray that you’re right. I obviously go with my gut. But it was a great experience, an eye opening experience. You don’t really think about it until after

“It was a good feeling just being out there and refereeing games on a Saturday, pretty much the whole day” the game, you know, the drive home the day after and you’re like, “heck, I just did my first MLS game.” Then you start looking back, like going from those countless AYSO games on a Saturday leading up to a professional MLS game. You know, it’s black and white, but once again, the experience that you gain early in your career is pretty much the base of your refereeing career and you carry that on for years.

What referees have impacted you the most in your professional career?

Brian Hall, who actually is a former AYSO player. He played AYSO and then later on became a World Cup referee. Later on from that, he took over the US Soccer referee department and is currently the director of referees for CONCACAF. A major impact in my career has to go to Brian Hall. He’s the one that took me under his wing and helped me develop for several years. (Brian Hall was inducted into the AYSO Hall of Fame in 2007.)

How’d it feel to receive the award from ESPN West Palm for Hispanic Athlete of the Year? It was pretty cool and it was unexpected. Obviously as a referee, I don’t even expect much from fans or even your community. Most importantly, I was able to share that moment with my family here in West Palm Beach. You don’t get too many or any referee moments with your family. My grandma’s the one that donated the fee for taking the USSF certification. She’s proud. AYSO.org



What are some goals that you have for your career right now?

My next goal, and the way I see it, is I go season by season. So my next goal is to have a very satisfactory season coming up in 2020. You know, anything after that is just in the future but my eyes are on 2020 and I just want to have a good upcoming season.

Finally, what advice would you give to a young ambitious referee today looking to find a pathway to continue refereeing at a higher level?

As a young referee, you have to make a choice. My advice is to make a choice, choose the path that you want to go on and work hard, choose to sacrifice events in your life that will have an influence on your referee career. But at the end of the day, the choice you make is your own. So if you want to work hard, it’s your choice, if you want to sacrifice, it’s your choice. But at the end of the day you have to be proud of that choice. If you want to accomplish something, remember it’s your choice.


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By Carlos Funes

After a 2018 United Soccer League (USL) Championship season that saw Orange County Soccer Club eliminated from the Western Conference Final of the Cup Playoffs, the club began to look for new initiatives and new faces to help shape the future of their team.

Since then, Aaron has been showing the league that he might be one of Southern California’s best young goalkeeper talents. He would be joining a strong league with the USL Championship, sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation as a Division II Professional League since 2017. Cervantes, who had already been deemed by many to be a talented prospect, with multiple call-ups to U.S. Youth National team training camps, was very eager for a big opportunity like this and the club was eager to let him shine. “We did not sign Aaron to join an Academy or to sit on the bench…we signed him because we expect him to earn a spot and play on our first team,” said Orange County SC Owner, James Keston, in 2018 after the signing announcement.

Aaron Cervantes, a standout goalkeeper from Chino Hills AYSO Region 779, CA is who they found to help kick start this future. Born just 30 miles north of Orange County SC’s home stadium of OC Great Park to two soccer-loving parents, Cervantes was excited to take on the big task. He inked his name to a contract at 15-years-old in March of 2018, becoming the youngest player to ever sign with the club at that time. It was just a few years before this historic signing that you could find an even younger Aaron standing in goal at one of the Chino Hills AYSO fields, flying through the air and stopping shots in their place. It was here that the young goalkeeper would begin to make his mark in between the sticks and find his second home. His origin story came as simple as this. “AYSO is where I started becoming a goalie. My team didn’t have a goalkeeper, so they said ‘Hey Aaron, get in goal’ and I have been a goalkeeper ever since,” said Cervantes on how he got started in goal. “After that, I said, this is my home, this is where I am supposed to be.”


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“AYSO is where I started becoming a goalie. My team didn’t have a goalkeeper, so they said ‘Hey Aaron, get in goal’ and I have been a goalkeeper ever since” At the beginning of the 2019 season, Orange County SC followed through with those expectations, and at 17 years of age, Cervantes found those expectations becoming a reality. Recording 11 starts in the 2019 season with 990 minutes of professional soccer under his belt, Cervantes became a staple of the starting lineup. His collection of accolades began to pick up, winning the USL Championship Save of the Week Honors for Weeks 3 and 19 of the season with a 38% fan vote. Through all this success, he remains cool and calm as ever. “I mean it’s definitely cool. You look back on it, and see 11 professional games on the season?’ but it’s

all just games you know, I’m just building on the last one and working to get three points in the next game,” says Cervantes. Cervantes became the first of many young, former AYSO talents to join the club. Soon after his signing came the signing of the now youngest professional signing with Francis Jacobs (Laguna Beach AYSO) at 14-years-old and Diego Lopez (Chino AYSO) at 17-years-old. “We started this youth initiative about two years ago when we signed Aaron Cervantes,” said General Manager Oliver Wyss. “We felt strongly that he had not only the ability but also the mentality to be a great pro. After a lot of hard work in 2018, he made his professional debut and in 2019 he’s doing even better. He’s an incredible athlete and an incredible player that was ready for the next level.” This big step up to the professional ranks of the USL Championship garnered the attention of the U.S. U17 Men’s National Team coach, Raphael Wicky (now head coach of MLS’ Chicago Fire). Cervantes was called up to the U.S. U17 Men’s National team for the 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup in Brazil. The squad’s campaign was a disappointing one, with the United States failing to advance the group stage, but the experience of a major international tournament provides Cervantes fuel for more career growth.

Now, Cervantes is back in Orange County with another level of soccer maturity that rivals most in the USL Championship and especially most players at his age. With a big 2019 year behind him, his wise words to the next AYSO generation carries some weight.


11 Games Played

11 Games Started

21 Saves

990 Minutes Played

Ranked #9 USL’s 20 under 20 “Make sure you’re spot on and paying attention in training and locked in. Be confident in everything that you do and go out there and do your thing,” says Cervantes. “You know why you’re here, everyone is here for a reason, so go out there and show them why you are here.” The next generation under the watch of Orange County Soccer Club are in good hands. There is a good balance of valuing the team and the player - the philosophies of player development and balanced teams, packaged in one.

Even through loss, this international experience gives Cervantes valuable leadership and insight - perfect for the pressure-filled role of a goalkeeper.

“At the end, it’s not just about the team, it is about the individual player and maximizing their potential for them to move on,” says Oliver Wyss. “I think we have that pathway here and the future for Aaron and many more like him is very bright.”

Orange County has continued to contribute to more international experience for Cervantes. After striking a partnership with world renowned soccer club Rangers FC of the Scottish Premier League, he, alongside the other AYSO alums, Francis Jacobs and Diego Lopez, headed to Scotland for a trial in December. This innovative partnership entails several youth development programs and staff/player movements between the two clubs. AYSO.org




By Katie McKee

How do you define success? Is it by winning? By beating another? Is it by achieving your goals? What about simply having fun…is that considered success? These are questions that every team, athlete, coach, parent, and referee should ask himself or herself. Understanding where you stand when it comes to success can dictate your mindset and outlook, your coaching philosophy, where your emphasis lies, and how you communicate.

On the flip side, an internal definition of success is closely related to the growth mindset, where success is measured by the pursuit of goals and the desire to learn. Improvement is possible for anyone at any time, therefore some would argue that there is no such thing as failing. Essentially, someone who is internally motivated by self-improvement and the goal achievement isn’t terribly affected by outcomes. Sure, no one wants to lose! But losing is a lesson in itself, and provides an opportunity to reflect and find areas for growth. It should be WINNING AND LEARNING not winning and losing. This mindset can contribute to a more balanced outlook on success and in turn can motivate you (and your team) to achieve your goals. Taking a step back to recognize that there are positives that come along with losing, setbacks, and obstacles, can have an important influence on your confidence level. Changing what success means to you and your team can change everything, and give you a better perspective about outcomes. You can and should be learning from every experience, triumph or setback. Winning is important, but winning is not the only thing.

Let’s take a look at success from an external perspective. An external definition of success usually has to do with the outcome, for example, winning the game, beating another, or having the best game stats. This perspective of success can sometimes breakdown as follows: If you are the kind of person who measures success solely by external factors like winning and losing, you may feel disappointed with losing or not having the “best” stats. You might frustrate easily, and get upset with others for not performing as well as you’d like them too or helping you perform well. This mindset can affect your confidence and motivation, and can inhibit the attitude necessary to truly be your best. Because you’re so caught up with outcome, you’re missing out on the many positives and opportunities for growth that come along with the experience of participating in the sport you love.


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With that said, it’s important to consider what’s ageappropriate when it comes to success. Every team I’ve played on and every team I’ve coached has had an innate desire to win, regardless of age. In fact, with the 10U team I coached in the fall, I don’t think I brought up winning once, mostly because the kids talked about it enough on their own! Because of this, I was able to focus on teaching the game, it’s fundamentals, and making sure they had fun. There are ages where more emphasis should be placed on development, teamwork, and fun. In my experience, development and fun should take priority from ages 2-10. This age group is where fundamentals are learned, where a love for the game is developed, and winning is a byproduct of everything else. After all, we want kids coming back to the sport year after year. Once players get older (10U and above) and have a solid foundation of skills, development can become more specific and winning becomes a little more of an emphasis.

What makes defining success hard is that everywhere we look, winning means success. Our society puts a heavy emphasis on winning. Turn on the TV and you’ll see that teams and coaches are measured by wins and losses. Unfortunately for our youth, they are products of their environment, meaning their outlook on success is learned. It’s in the best interest of the next generations to help foster a mindset that allows them to fail, allows them to embrace the hard work, and find success in the process and not only the outcome.

- How can we maintain those things? - What areas or skills can we improve for nexttime? - How we will make these changes?

Encourage youth to embrace the hard work it takes to achieve your dreams. Yes, sometimes games and practices will be hard, but just because something is hard does not mean it’s not worth it or can’t be accomplished.

“It should be

So how can you encourage a balanced outlook on success? Try these ideas:

WINNING AND LEARNING not winning and losing.”

Focus on winning and learning. As the late Kobe Bryant put it, “Everything negative – pressure, challenges – are all opportunities for me to rise.” Every experience has a lesson. Create a post practice/post game reflection routine where you acknowledge things that went well and areas for improvement. Ask yourself or your team, - What did we do well today?


Remind yourself and your players that success and failure go together. You cannot have one without the other. Setbacks, obstacles, challenges are a part of the growth process and are crucial to development and achievement just as much as winning. Katie McKee, M.A., is a Mental Performance Consultant and AYSO coach in the Redondo Beach, Ca area. For more information or to get in touch with Katie, please visit her website www.mindfit-performance.com




avid Moyes had a long professional career as a defender starting at Celtic and played over 500 games as a pro. He then moved into Coaching and Management and has a resume which includes Everton, Manchester United F.C. and a most recent appointment with West Ham United F.C. In this masterclass session delivered by Moyes, The Coaching Manual explores the reason for pressing and the technical, tactical components of pressing individually and as a team.

Why did you create and deliver this particular pressing session? David Moyes: Well for me, first and foremost it’s something relatively simple, which the players who I don’t know would pick up quite quickly.

But, what they needed to show was a good attitude and a good energy and enthusiasm to it. I think pressing, at the moment, is a big part of football. Many teams are trying to do it and they’re having to do it because the proof is showing that if you win the ball back earlier up the field, it’s leading to more goals, as it did in the Champions League this year. And I also think that it’s important for young players to understand getting after the ball and winning it back.


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Why is pressing important for players and coaches?

David Moyes: I think you do choose your moments to press, but I think for what we wanted to do this morning (for the young players) was to show them (and the coaches who were watching), here’s a session which works with pressing. This gives them [something which] affects their mentality, how they think they should go about it. I think the reason for sending 1 player in first is to say [to] the first player who goes: “It’s probably a bit of a thankless task, you may not win the ball, there’s a good chance you don’t get it, but the rewards for it is if we’re winning the ball

And to go into deeper depth it would actually be talking about you know - how far in should the defenders go? When should they go? Should they follow people all of the way in? So, I think depending on the group of players you’ve got and the age group of players you’ve got, you can decide what amount of detail they need to be given.

When and why did you get into coaching?

David Moyes: Well I actually qualified as a fully qualified coach when I was 22. That was before the Pro License was in place and I attended the SFA

player. I was anxious to become a better player and hopefully with the coaching, when I understood more, it would make me a better player. Ultimately, what it did was it gave me a love for coaching and a love for you know, working with players and seeing it. And over the years, I’ve had to keep it going, but I had a great start and I’m really fortunate that the people who taught me and the people who I worked with were very good.

What impact does coaching have on player development?

David Moyes: Player development is massive anywhere. But I also believe (I’m a big believer) in players progressing themselves as well. Coaches are there to help them develop, but if the players don’t pick it up and don’t pick up on what they’re told, then you tend to find that they don’t pick it up at all. And I actually do believe that the best players, once you tell them once and say here’s something you should try to do or this is something that you should be looking to do, I do believe that the top players pick that up and get it in their locker and move on.

What attributes are important for a player of any age to possess? back much quicker up the pitch, it’s giving you much more chances of scoring goals.” So, I certainly believe that most centre-forwards would rather play that way than maybe wait until they get the ball at different moments. But I think, more importantly, it’s a team session and it’s to make sure that the team are pressing together, not just the forwards; the midfield players behind, then it incorporates the defenders as well.


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- the Scottish Football Association - who had great coaching courses and, more importantly, had great coaches. You know, people like Andy Roxburgh, there was Walter Smith, Alex Ferguson, Jim McLean. People who were real big names in Scottish Football gave up so much time to help people like myself and other coaches improve. So, my main aim when I first did it was actually to become a better

David Moyes: Well I think, first and foremost, you need the players to have a love for the game. I think my biggest thing is I’ve got a love for the game and I always have had. I think you need the players to have that. I think you need them to be improving and wanting to work to improve. What I mean to say is that I do think the players need to step up themselves, it can’t always be down to the coach.

The coach is not necessarily going to make the player, the player has to do it themself. The coach is there to

help him, to give him every opportunity to do so, to put on the sessions like today. To pick up and understand what they should be doing.

How important is it for coaches to set and maintain standards and how can they take control of their own development?

David Moyes: Well you set your standards - I believe throughout your career - and you try to keep them up. You know exactly what you’re looking for from the players. I think more importantly, you want your standard of training to be very good. You want the players and the level of commitment to be very good and I think you’re really keen to work with players who are energetic and want to show that they want to get better as well. I think the days where, you know, coaches can work with players who are maybe not that way, I don’t think works now. I think players have really got to be keen to learn and improve as well. I think to continue your improvement you have to keep going out to look. Even now in the roles I’ve had, I think the big thing is not to sit behind a desk and think that that’s it, you’ve made

it when you get a good job. I think it’s finding ways and I think for young coaches, like watching a session today, like watching similar sessions, I think it’s a way of improving. I spent years and years on the road trying to go and watch clubs and countries train. I went to different international seminars all round Europe to try and find out more.

"Players have really got to be keen to learn and improve as well." But I think nowadays because of programmes like this, and the coaching that you can find out there, there are other ways you can look to find and improve. This interview was by The Coaching Manual. If you need more support for your coaches in your Region, Area or Section, sign up for the AYSO Coaching Manual today. For broadcast quality training footage, session or season plans, design software and more, go to ayso. thecoachingmanual.com. Or contact lucy@thecoachingmanual.com for pricing.

Molten is proud to be an Official Ball of AYSO

Trademarks owned by Molten Corporation or Molten USA, Inc. ©2020 Molten USA, Inc.

AYSO United Arizona’s

MICHAEL HOLLAR WINS 2019 National Coach of the Year Award He was just ready to keep doing what he knew best - coaching youth soccer. A trip to Baltimore would soon change that.

Going into 2019, longtime AYSO volunteer coach Michael Hollar would be taking on a new challenge by becoming a newly minted AYSO United coach. He was joining one of the fastestgrowing club programs in the nation after several years of volunteering within the AYSO core program. With the leadership of AYSO United Arizona Director of Coaching (DOC), Ed Alameda, Hollar was excited to continue his love of coaching with the first AYSO United training location in Arizona. Many can agree - coaching youth soccer can be a work of passion instead of one of riches, where countless coaches can be found putting in hard work for the sake of improving the beautiful game with the goal of developing the next generation of great players. Hollar is one of those coaches. Naturally, Hollar did not expect this first year would become one filled with acclaim and AYSO United fame.


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Fast forward to 2020, Michael Hollar is headed back home from a trip across the U.S. filled with coaching workshops, professional coaching networking, and even a run-in with the legendary two time World Cup-winning U.S. Women’s National Team coach Jill Ellis. He has just spent a week in Baltimore for the AYSO United Technical Workshop and the United Soccer Coaches Convention. But best of all, he has just been announced as the 2019 AYSO United National Coach of the Year, presented by New Balance. He has been selected from more than 500 coaches in 14 different states becoming the inaugural recipient of the illustrious award. This is a major accomplishment to add to his coaching repertoire making his trip to Baltimore for the AYSO United Technical Workshop one to remember. 

“Very humbling to receive this honor. It’s a labor of love to do what I do for this organization. Many thanks to everyone that helped me on this journey, with the largest thank you to Lisa Hollar (wife) for giving me the freedom to do what I love,” said Hollar on receiving his award. “It’s great as a volunteer to get some of those thank yous because you don’t always get them - doing it for other reasons, but every once in awhile it’s nice to get one and this one was a big one.” The Coach of the Year program recognizes individuals who have gone above and beyond with their involvement with the club. Hollar’s coaching consistently exceeded expectations in the delivery of the AYSO United club program and firmly upheld the AYSO United Core Values. His award came from an expert panel of judges that include AYSO and AYSO United leadership.  “Michael exemplifies what it is and what it means to be an AYSO united coach,” said James Janosz, AYSO United Director of Youth &

soccer and shows it by his actions of great coaching. He is a coach that truly lives for the development of his players, while making sure they enjoy the game as much as he does.

Affiliates. “We as an organization, couldn’t be prouder and happier to have him as our inaugural National Coach of the Year.” AYSO United is not only a soccer club for Player Development, it is one that prides itself on the continual education of their vast number of coaches. With United programs across the country, local coaches of each United club join a larger network that encourages sharing knowledge and coaching ideas. Hollar is glad to be united with this network.

This connection to the national network is spearheaded by Ed Alameda. Alameda is responsible for the growth and development of the more than 30 teams, ranging from Flagstaff to Tucson, Arizona. From day one of AYSO United Arizona’s inception, he knew he had a great opportunity to nurture an environment where both his players and coaches can prosper. Alameda’s positive leadership has been highlighted before, being the catalyst to Arizona’s Gage White’s Successful Return to Club Soccer. So, it comes as no surprise that this training location has another great success story with Michael Hollar.

“The bigger picture is that it’s more about the kids than it is about us. You kind of got to set your ego aside sometimes." “We are all united, we all wear the same uniform, all our kids are learning the same criteria, coaches are trained the same way - it’s much more cohesive, I love it. It’s a great structure behind us,” said Hollar. “It’s nice to have a big organization behind you to give you support - someone you can always talk to and bounce things off of.” AYSO.org

With the spotlight on him, moments after being announced as the Coach of the Year, his humility is unwavering. He’s asked if he has something he would like to share with his fellow coaches what they should be doing out on the pitch. With the Coach of the Year trophy in hand, an endearing smile on his face, Hollar departs with time tested coaching wisdom unto his AYSO United colleagues.  “The bigger picture is that it’s more about the kids than it is about us. You kind of got to set your ego aside sometimes. It’s not about wins and losses, it is about the kids’ experience and helping them develop and enjoy the game and hopefully - play for a very long time.” 

“We believe Coach Hollar’s leadership, demeanor and attitude make him the perfect coach to represent not only Arizona but AYSO United nationally,” said Ed Alameda, AYSO United Arizona Director of Coaching. Beyond the help of the national network, none of this would have been possible without Hollar’s life of passion to action. He is passionate about the sport of PLAYSOCCER


FINDING THE PERFECT FIT With so many soccer balls on the market, how do you find the right one for your players? Too often we hear comments such as, “this one is too small!”, “I like the way that one looks!”, or “My soccer ball is too big”! We are here to help provide some insight into buying the perfect soccer ball for your players.

"Allowing the players to practice with the correct size soccer ball, will set them up for success in the games." First, let’s start with size. There are 3 different soccer ball sizes that are available, size 3, size 4, and size 5. Each size has an age range attached to it. If your players are 8 years old or younger, size 3 is the correct ball for them. If your players are between the ages of 8-12, we recommend a size 4 soccer ball. And for players 12 and older, they would use a size 5. Allowing the players to practice with the correct size soccer ball,


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will set them up for success in the games. The sizing difference allows for the players at each age to have a ball that is the ideal fit for their foot. Now that we have the sizing correct, it is time to narrow down the selection by determining if you are looking for a practice ball or a competition soccer ball. Let’s start by determining the difference between the two different soccer balls. A practice soccer ball is usually a lower price point and made with lower quality materials. It is designed to be used on a daily basis. Competition soccer balls are usually more expensive, due to the higher quality materials used in its construction. For example, a practice ball may be machine stitched with soft cover, whereas a competition ball could have added backing and a premium cover. Once you determine the type of soccer ball you are interested in or the price point then you can easily make your decision. Just to recap, when selecting the right soccer ball for your player or players, first consider the size based on their age. Next, determine if you are looking for a practice or competition soccer ball. Then go out there and have some fun!

Success is a choice, choose BAND to communicate with your team Roaring Tigers Soccer Coach Rodriguez Read by 12


STATE FINAL @METLIFE STADIUM! State Final Sat, 24 Feb 8:00 AM


BAND provides just in time planning and messaging for events, practices, & games.”

—Coach Ralph

Parents, please sign up here! Can you attend the game?


I can make it!


Sorry I can't.


Make sure to review the schedule. Game schedule.pdf


AYSO REGIONAL SPONSORSHIP PROGRAM Don’t miss the chance for your region to receive a $1,000 Donation. Contact ayso.band@navercorp.com to apply for a sponsorship. AYSO.org



Soccer Clans, Clubs, and Communities: Just what a Girl Needs By Jennifer Gruskoff, Girls Soccer Network

Much has been written on the benefits of health and sports for young women. There’s little to dispute that embracing an active lifestyle is beneficial for all kids, from dodging the obesity epidemic to helping boost self-esteem. But what is it about soccer that makes it such a draw for young girls? Why are our daughters signing up to play the beautiful game even before they jump into sports that are considered endemic to our country?


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The answer to that may lie in the history of the sport, which, of course, was completely male dominated for a very long time. If we look at the English model, as the sport started to become more organized in the 19th century, it was competitive, yes, but also largely social. Factory and farm workers would get together and form a team, which would play a team of factory and farm workers in another town. They got creative with colors, crests and tribal chants that represented their special patch of the world; a cross, a dragon, castles, or a plow. The

"Soccer has, in its DNA, a unique ability to bring people together." important thing was the representation of your village and life. West Hampstead wouldn’t be “The Hammers” if it weren’t for the Thames Iron Works. Norwich wouldn’t be the Canaries if there wasn’t a deep history of breeding the birds in that area. These early teams solidified the sense of pride and identity for the town they represented and thus a deep and rich bond was created. And, let’s face it, these early teams created a social opportunity other than church on the weekend where people (again, mostly men) could gather. So why do our daughters play soccer? Nowadays, they’re definitely not playing for their factory or farm but, some of the other notions hold true. Soccer has, in its DNA, a unique ability to bring people together. What teen girls have in their DNA is, let’s face it, a little more complicated. Most young girls are social AYSO.org

creatures. They love to do things in packs and want to a feel a part of. While school can be a great source of community, it often is just the opposite. The stress of high school has become about getting into college and less about personal development. We ask why are record numbers of girls dropping out of sports completely at the age of 13? The answer is pretty simple. There’s simply too much to navigate and it’s easier to cut soccer than it is science. The time issue is real. Girls in general are feeling insanely stressed and increasingly overwhelmed. Does that mean clearing out all social and athletic endeavors so they can hit the books more? No, in fact, just the opposite. Like the farm and factory workers before them, soccer, or football, became their communal outlet for the stress and grind of their everyday lives. There is no better sport than soccer to bring girls together. Learning to win and lose is just a part of it. It’s the personal growth and relationships that come from the experience of soccer, that is what’s profound. If you think about an actual soccer game, they’re challenging. Especially when comparing them to American sports that generally have a stop and go mentality. Sometimes two minutes of American football can last twenty minutes! Not soccer. It moves. It flows.

It’s complex and frustrating, like a puzzle. Sometimes you play for 90 minutes and no one even scores a goal! But, the whole time, you’re working insanely hard, playing forty-five minutes halves with no timeouts, wind in your face, sun beating down, come rain, come shine. It definitely creates resilience and character, and because everyone is working towards a common goal, the playing field is equal. There’s no hierarchy or clicks. They simply can’t exist in the same place as the game. Being on a soccer team gives girls a great break from school culture and lets her experience being part of the whole. It’s no mystery why 90% female CEO’s played a sport when they were in high school and/or college. If you boil down what the single, most vital part of a soccer game is, it’s about looking up and connecting the next pass. That is how one spends every second of the 90 minutes on the field; in constant search of that next pass. What a great metaphor for girls. If you’re looking to connect, then you’re engaged with life and truly in the moment. Through this process, and its repetitive pattern, identities can be shaped, connections are made and empowerment to express yourself is discovered. And hopefully through it all, girls realize that they have the power to impact their team, community and leave a lasting legacy like the ones who came before them.



Running through the AYSO Player Pathway Our Six Philosophies Everyone Plays®

AYSO’s goal is for kids and adults to play soccer, not sit on the bench, so we mandate that every player must play at least 50% of every game.

Balanced Teams

Each year, new teams are formed as evenly as possible, providing a stronger learning experience for players as they play teams of similar ability. It also allows them to play alongside a wide variety of teammates of different skill levels.

When AYSO says there is a program for every age and stage of life we mean it. The beautiful game of soccer is meant to be accessible to everyone, no matter where you come from. This is lived out daily through AYSO’s programs and Six Philosophies. Below is quick glance at all our AYSO programs, how you can get involved and the foundational beliefs that drive us every day to enrich families lives through soccer!

The Programs

Playground and Schoolyard Programs

Open Registration

AYSO invites you to play, giving all youth and adults the opportunity to register in the community program that works for their family.

Positive Coaching

A coach can be one of the most influential people in a player’s life, which is why AYSO requires that they create a positive experience for every player. Additionally, encouraging player’s effort leads to greater enjoyment, improved skills and stronger motivation.

Good Sportsmanship

We strive to create a positive environment based on mutual respect rather than a win-at-allcosts attitude, and our programs are designed to instill good sportsmanship in every facet of AYSO.

Player Development

All players should be able to develop their soccer skills and knowledge to the best of their abilities, both individually and as members of a team, maximizing their enjoyment of the game.


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• Fundamental Motor Skills (FMS) are a priority with a soccer thread, a time for imagination. • Parent involvement and introduction. • Child development, not coaching. It is gradual self-discovery in a pressure free and safe environment. • Playing environments are fun games, adventures, colorful landscapes. • Scaffold weekly soccer pieces into 3v3.

6U • Time for exploration and to let them play. • FMS combined with ball familiarity. • Introduction to basic dribbling and passing technique to maximize ball contact. • Introduction to the 4v4 match environment.

8U • Time for Discovery. • Introduction to training, organization, structure. • Additional passing techniques, shape and tactical introduction through small-sided games. • Players become “familiar” with basic positions and roles.

10U • This is the golden age for learning with focus on specific techniques and skills. It is the time for ADVENTURE!

practiced and perfected. • Position-specific training is now being applied to both individuals and small groups. • Tactical training now involves larger game-like areas and realistic environments. • Attacking and defending Principles of Play are laced throughout the session. • Coaching methods consider players’ health and fitness due to the major physical changes players are experiencing at this age.

Advanced (16U-18U)

• Additional technique and principles of play are applied to develop game understanding. • Coaching methodology now includes, offside, goalkeeping and the build-out line. • Additional numbers in 7v7 offers more “discussion” on positional role, formation and shape.

12U • Polish technical skills related to 9v9 tactical demands. • Small-sided games help complete attacking and defensive principles. • Players still rotate positions (as well as participate in other activities/sports to avoid early specialization). • Players need to be INSPIRED by innovative coaching and current methodology.

• Coaching priority is on observational skills and match analysis. • Technically, individual focus is on first-touch efficiency, passing and goal scoring, while group training is position specific. • Tactics, strategy and set pieces are present throughout training sessions. Other priorities include quick transition, speed of play, counter attacking and finishing. • Endurance, strength and speed become physical platforms for faster and more dynamic technical and tactical execution.

14U • 11v11 tactical development becomes significant; however, technical efficiency is still prioritized, AYSO.org

• Small-sided matches are still an important part of tactical training, and attacking and defending principles of play are woven throughout all planning, activities and discussions. • Leadership is cultivated. PLAYSOCCER


AYSO VIP • Inclusive program for players with physical and developmental disabilities. • Expert training for coaches, buddies and volunteers.



AYSO Alliance

• Try-out based program option between Primary and AYSO United that is locally run and managed by the Area. • Entry point into external playing circuit

AYSO United • Try-out-based, competitive apex of AYSO for players 10U-18U that flips the soccer building blocks by prioritizing psychosocial development as the starting point to technical, tactical and physical advancement. • Progressive, attacking soccer with purposeful possession, encouraging lots of movement and short quick passing of the ball by creative individuals.

AYSO Extra

• AYSO United clubs play in external playing circuits, i.e., state leagues.

• Introduction to more competitive and try-out-based play in an internal playing circuit (against other AYSO Regions/Areas) • Can be organized in addition to Primary Program or side-by- side.

Stewards of the Game

Referees and coaches are called to be Stewards of the Game, working together to ensure that player safety, at the physical and emotional level, is the number one priority on the field. All 7 members of the team (3 referees and 4 coaches) are equal participants, there for the sole purpose of discussing how to ensure a safe and protective environment for the players to play. To learn more about AYSO’s programs and how you can register visit www.AYSO.org/play/programs.

FINISHED SIZE 8” x 5.25” SIZE WITH BLEED 8.25” x 5.5”

BLEED AREA - To avoid white borders you MUST extend your image to fill this purple box. TRIM BOX - Magazine will cut on this line to finished size. SAFE AREA - Keep all important design elements in this box.

















NATIONAL PARTNERS UnitedSoccerCoaches.org





COLOR A PICTURE! Contest winners will receive an AYSO prize pack. There is one way to enter the contest: email your entry to SocialMedia@AYSO.Org. All entries must be received by May 1, 2020. Finalists will be placed on Facebook soon after. To see past winners, visit facebook.com/AYSOsoccer.






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New Official Uniform kits for 2020


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Profile for AYSOmarketing

PLAYSOCCER Magazine Spring 2020  

The spring issue of AYSO's PLAYSOCCER Magazine.

PLAYSOCCER Magazine Spring 2020  

The spring issue of AYSO's PLAYSOCCER Magazine.