Concerns and Potential Challenges for new TOPSoccer Programs
We would be kidding ourselves if we thought there would be no problems for a local association in starting a TOPSoccer program. Many problems can be solved through better education and communication on the issues concerning children with disabilities. USYSA has identified some of the problem areas that can arise and possible ways to solve them.
- Parent denial. Many parents do not accept the fact that their child has a disability and may set high expectations for their child that the child can’t fulfill. If this should occur, try talking with the parents about their expectations of the program and their child.
- Lack of support from the local club or State Association. This is why we feel it is critical to involve the local club with TOPSoccer from the very beginning. To succeed, we have to make TOPSoccer an integral part of our effort. At the heart of this are education and communication.
- The fear of being sued. This is America and people sue at the drop of a hat. If you have to worry every time you do something that you are going to be sued, you would never do anything!
- A player has a disability but refuses to be placed on a TOPSoccer team. Just because a child is disabled does not mean they have to play on a TOPSoccer team. Every child should have the opportunity to play as long as they can meet the requirements established for play and safety; their safety and that of the other players.
- Uncontrollable behavior of a player. If through communication with the parents and the child the problem cannot be resolved and the behavior is severe enough that they may cause physical harm to the other players or themselves, the player may need to be restricted from participation in group activities. This player may still be able to participate in skills activities.
- The child with an overprotective parent. Try to have someone work individually with this child, and get him/her away from the parent. Give the parent a job to do; keep them busy.
- Not having enough volunteers to help. In some cases, players will need one-on-one interaction to function. Parents can be a great asset at this point; get them involved. Another great source I have used with Special Olympics soccer players is to recruit volunteers from older-aged non-disabled teams. They generally have a great time.