Welcome to Santa Cruz County Stars!
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Santa Cruz County Stars program is part of a national soccer program created to train young people with disabilities in a caring coaching environment. The program is generally carried out by volunteers at the local level, with financial support from local sponsors and the program's local youth soccer organization such as Santa Cruz County Youth Soccer League (SCCYSL).
By providing a community-based training and team placement program for young people with disabilities, any boy or girl, age 4 and up who has a mental or physical disability will have the opportunity to learn and play soccer and become valued and successful members of Santa Cruz County Youth Soccer Program.
The Stars program was designed not as a competitor to the programs run by other sports organizations for people with disabilities, but rather as a complementary program that works hand in hand with organizations like the challenger program to expand the overall training and competition opportunities for young people with disabilities.
The Stars program often works as a feeder program: recruiting, assessing, and training new soccer players who would benefit from opportunities sponsored by these sports organizations. Many of the sports opportunities currently offered to young people with disabilities are school based. However, many parents of these young people would like their child to participate in the same community sports program as their non-disabled brothers and sisters - to wear the same club uniform, play at the same fields, go to the same awards banquets, and if appropriate, play on a non-disabled team. The Stars can fill this need.
The Stars program has also helped introduce the Unified Soccer Camp in many areas, a concept developed by Special Olympics. The Unified Soccer Camp brings together disabled and non-disabled soccer players in a positive and fun environment, hopefully breaking down social barriers through a common love of the game.
The Stars program is nationally affiliated with the AYSO VIP (Very Important Players) Program with the goals of providing 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
VIP helps more than just the players. Buddies and other volunteers increase their appreciation and understanding of individuals with special needs. They find their lives greatly enriched by their involvement with their new VIP friends. For parents thinking they would never see their children playing a sport or making new friends, VIP gives them joy and hope. They are able to relax and enjoy watching their children having fun like other kids, perhaps for the first time.
Teams can have as few as three players and may be co-ed. VIP teams can be put together with players who register based on mobility or ability. Older and younger players can also be separated onto different teams when numbers allow.
VIP Mission Statement
The mission of the AYSO VIP Program is to provide a quality soccer experience for individuals whose physical or mental disabilities make it difficult for them to successfully participate on mainstream soccer teams. What is successful participation? It should be defined by the player's enjoyment and the safety of all team members. These goals are closely aligned with the Santa Cruz County Soccer Stars.