The Long Island Junior Soccer League recently honored a special group of children for their participation in the TOPSoccer program this past fall. Over 450 people were in attendance at the event held at the Huntington Hilton, where players received trophies along with soccer-related apparel and gifts.
“Every coach and player who is involved with the game of soccer should come to one of these events,” said LIJSL President Addie Mattei-Iaia. “It gives great perspective on what the game should be all about.”
TOPS stands for The Outreach Program for Soccer, a special program run by Long Island Junior Soccer League and its clubs that provide a safe and fun environment for children with disabilities, from severe auditory or visual impairment, and orthopedic handicaps, to behavior deviations or mental retardation. The goal is to provide soccer skill development and free play for kids who are unable to compete in a mainstream soccer program.
Started by Mike Ludin in 1978, the TOPS program has grown exponentially over the years. There are currently 25 member clubs on Long Island that provide TOPS program services to over 750 players, who range in age from 4 to 35 years old.