TOPSoccer volunteer Buddies and Coaches


Cause Areas


Sat Jan 27, 2018 10:00 AM - Sat Mar 17, 2018 12:00 PM


5490 Lakewood Ranch Blvd(Behind Lakewood Ranch HS)(Lakewood Ranch Park soccer fields)Bradenton, FL 34202
Volunteer Buddies help our special needs athletes


  • What is it? The Outreach Program for Soccer (TOPSoccer)
  • National brand for a youth soccer program specifically for disabled and other 'special needs’ children - Autism, Down syndrome, ADD/ADHD, other physical and developmental issues - no specific measure or criteria
  • Initially developed by the US Youth Soccer Association (USYSA) and implemented by local affiliates in each state; 25 years in southern CA

  • Why was it formed here in the East Manatee County area?
  • Interest from a parent in the fall of 2005 - inquired as to a soccer program where both he and his child felt comfortable and accepted
  • Program researched and started in the winter of 2007 - roughly 35 participants
  • Grown to include both fall and winter seasons - roughly 60 participants per year

  • How is it structured?
  • "Athletes" participate in soccer and other physical activities, grouped by ability
  • Volunteer "Buddies," typically high school students, are assigned to athletes 1:1, and provide basic training on dealing with select issues (Down syndrome: warn about transitions, provide choices where possible, watch footing, appropriate physicality)
  • Buddy-athlete relationship maintained for the entire season to increase consistency, develop better understanding of capabilities and behavior, ensure safety
  • Focus is on participation, without competitive nature even found in 'rec’ programs
  • FREE: no costs for participation; all expenses covered by donations, grants
    • Grant sources have included Lakewood Ranch Community Fund of the Manatee Community Foundation, CVS, Nike, adidas, Honeywell, CARE
    • Donations accepted from parents but NOT expected

Where and when is it held?

  • Once per week session, lasting 2 hours, on Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon
  • Season lasts between 6-8 weeks, working around school schedule
  • All activities at County soccer fields behind LRHS by picnic pavilion, bathrooms


  • Soccer
  • People Skills
  • Child Care
  • Special Needs
  • Relationship Building

Good Match For


Requirements & Commitment

  • Must be at least 16
  • 8 weeks, 2 hours per week

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