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AYSO Celebrates 50th Anniversary

The Biggest Pick-Up Game on Earth, Regional Events, National Games Celebrating Over 6 Million Players and 1.2 Million Volunteers

TORRANCE, CA--(Marketwired - February 26, 2014) - The American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) will celebrate 50 years as the nation's most active and open youth soccer organization in 2014. The year-long celebration with more than 50,000 teams, over 500,000 players and 125,000 volunteers will include a national youth soccer festival and over 100 community-based events that will set a record for the biggest pick-up soccer game in history.

"AYSO has enriched the lives of three generations and millions of children of all ages with the power of fun, family, healthy activity and sportsmanship through the game of soccer," says Paula Berriz, AYSO's National President. "Our 50th Anniversary is a tribute to the children, families, volunteers and neighbors who have shared, cared and played their way to healthier, happier communities."

"AYSO is not only proud of its well-known alumni -- star athletes such as Landon Donovan, Alex Morgan, Cobi Jones, Derek Jeter, Julie Foudy, Shannon Boxx and more -- we're extremely proud of the millions of children who grew into self-confident and stronger adults in both their physical ability and their overall personal development," Berriz said.

The AYSO 50th Anniversary is aiming to set a World Record for the Biggest Pick-Up Game on Earth with AYSO's #SoccerFest14 on May 3, 2014. AYSO's #SoccerFEST14 is a one-day soccer extravaganza that will take place simultaneously across the country. Open to children of all ages, players are shuffled and put on brand new teams with new teammates. Kids and parents end the day with several fun games, healthy snacks and new friends. Tens of thousands of people are expected to participate in this world record event.

"This is a perfect way to mark our anniversary, because it demonstrates what AYSO stands for: teamwork, Everyone Plays® and building confidence and friendships," says Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, AYSO National Executive Director. "AYSO welcomed girls into organized soccer long before equal athletic opportunities were required by law. AYSO established its VIP (Very Important Player) leagues for players with special needs more than two decades ago, and we have vigorous scholarship programs at the national and local levels. We stand for the principle that Everyone Plays®, so every child can reach his or her fullest potential."

In addition, from June 29-July 6, while the world enjoys this year's FIFA World Cup, AYSO will host its 50th Anniversary AYSO National Games in AYSO's birthplace of Southern California. Nearly 500 teams from across the country and soccer celebrities are expected to attend the Games, to be held in the cities of Torrance and Riverside, California. For more information, go to AYSO.org/NG.

A series of regional gatherings, AYSO EXPOs, are also taking place through the year across the nation. The AYSO EXPOs offer local AYSO volunteers the chance to participate in the celebration with an interactive 50-year history display and to look back on AYSO's history and appreciate how far the organization has progressed. The interactive timeline can be viewed at timeline.AYSO.org.

AYSO is a non-profit, parent supported organization that operates local youth soccer programs for children aged 4-19 in almost 900 communities nationwide. AYSO's programs are distinctive among youth soccer organizations in its approach to player development, training and family involvement. Six core principles guide all AYSO teams: Everyone Plays®, Balanced Teams, Open Registration, Positive Coaching, Good Sportsmanship and Player Development.

AYSO's reach into the nation's communities is supported by a wide variety of corporate sponsors including The American Soccer Company/SCORE, Fox Sports, Herbalife, Shutterfly, Kerrygold Dairies and Nestle's® NESQUIK®. AYSO will also add a new major sponsor, to be announced in the upcoming month.

About AYSO

AYSO was founded in Torrance, Calif. in 1964 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It was the dream of a group of devoted soccer enthusiasts who started the organization out of their own garage with nine teams. Today, the national non-profit has more than 50,000 teams, nearly 900 leagues, and 500,000 players nationwide. Its alumni tops 6,000,000, including some of the top professional soccer players in the U.S. AYSO is founded on Six Philosophies which include Everyone Plays®, Balanced Teams, Open Registration, Positive Coaching, Good Sportsmanship and Player Development. For more information, contact Sahar Milani at [email protected] or visit www.AYSO.org.

The following files are available for download:

Sydney Weisman
WHPR Los Angeles
323.730-0233

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