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AYSO Soccer Turns 50

Golden Anniversary Opening Day on Sept. 6 Celebrates Milestone; 500,000 Kids Across U.S. to Kick Off Soccer Season

TORRANCE, CA--(Marketwired - August 20, 2014) - This September, the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) celebrates 50 years as America's oldest and most beloved national youth soccer organization. Founded in 1964 in Torrance, Calif. by a group of soccer enthusiasts, AYSO started out in a founder's garage with just nine teams and a vision to enrich children's lives through soccer. Since that simple beginning, that vision has catapulted into a prominent, national nonprofit sports organization with over 50,000 teams in nearly 900 communities.

AYSO is proud to share its rich history with over six million players, 1.2 million volunteers and star alumni including Landon Donovan, Alex Morgan, Cobi Jones, Derek Jeter, Julie Foudy, Shannon Boxx and more. AYSO communities across the nation will kick off the 50th Anniversary soccer season with the official Golden Anniversary Opening Day, starting on Sept. 6, when nearly 500,000 young players will take to AYSO soccer fields across the country.

"We celebrate AYSO's 50th Anniversary with three generations and millions of soccer players and their families from New York to Honolulu," said Mark Stewart, AYSO's National President. "This September marks a turning point in our organization as a trailblazer in youth sports. Fifty years ago AYSO laid the groundwork on how youth sports organizations could successfully operate: it was the first to develop and implement the philosophies of Everyone Plays® with every child playing half of every game, Positive Coaching, Balanced Teams, a structured and safe environment for child development, and was the first to include girls -- a year before the Title IX Act in 1971."

In various locations across the country, Opening Day will also include parades, festivals, food drives and fundraisers.

Over the years, AYSO's Six Philosophies focusing on player development, healthy lifestyles and family involvement continues to distinguish it from other youth sports organizations. A testament to its prominence and longevity, AYSO programs continue to improve the health, fitness and lifestyles of today's families.

In recognition of the growing crisis in childhood obesity and weight-related diseases affecting people of all ages, AYSO has partnered with Herbalife's Director of Worldwide Fitness Education and former Olympic athlete Samantha Clayton in a new healthy-living program called "Fit from the Sidelines." Geared toward busy parents everywhere, "Fit from the Sidelines" will provide straightforward exercises and activities that parents can easily do from the sidelines of their children's soccer games and practices. It will also include tips and guidelines on health, nutrition and exercise in order for them to lead healthy and active lifestyles.

"Our goal is to change people's lives by helping them live healthy and active lifestyles. As a working mom of four and ex-Olympian, I know how hard it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle given today's demands of parenthood and work," said Clayton. "As athletes, both my husband [former Major League Baseball All-Star player Royce Clayton] and I have been heavily involved in our children's health and well-being. We both coach our kids' AYSO teams and I saw an opportunity to involve parents with simple yet effective exercises that can be done from the sidelines at games and practices. Our hope is to give people access to fun and basic information on fitness and nutrition so they can improve their own fitness and inspire others, especially their own children." AYSO will be rolling out the new, "Fit from the Sidelines" program nationwide this fall.

About AYSO

AYSO was founded in Torrance, Calif., in 1964 and is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2014. 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 community 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.

AYSO's vision of enriching children's lives through soccer is supported by a wide variety of corporate sponsors including FOX Sports 1, DOLE Fruit Squish'ems, SCORE, Herbalife, Shutterfly, Kerrygold, Nestlé's® NESQUIK®, and BJ's Restaurants. FOX Sports 1 is also the Presenting Sponsor of AYSO's 50thAnniversary.

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