McKinney Soccer Association will offer a full-fledged soccer season to those in the surrounding area with special needs via its TOPSoccer program. Beginning in the middle of September, those with special needs will be provided uniforms, practices and games with referees at no cost. Registration is ongoing and extends all the way into the season. Players of all ages from McKinney and surrounding areas are welcome to participate. Kimberley Waggoner, who serves as the liaison for North Texas Soccer and TOPSoccer, first got involved after a conference call between North Texas Soccer and local associations.
“I have been working with those with special needs since I was in high school. Our program is a little different because there is 100 percent no cost to players, and it is open to all ages,” Waggoner said. “While the season starts in the second or third week of September, registration will remain open after games begin. You don’t have to be a McKinney or even a Collin County resident be involved. We understand that players may not be able to make every practice, but we would like players to be there as much as possible.”
In order to allow the program to remain free for participants, Waggoner is quick to point out the generous donations from the likes of the City of McKinney Parks and Recreation, Interstate Batteries, Xara, Plano Youth Soccer Association (PYSA) in addition to individuals.
“We’ve seen some really good results when it comes to donations, and parents are very excited and appreciative,” Waggoner said. “They see that we are giving back to the community by providing this league, and I think it is coming together very well.”
Since the program is just beginning, Waggoner explained that McKinney has been working closely with PYSA and Allen Sports Association. The hope is once the TOPSoccer program in McKinney gets big enough; there will be enough framework for surrounding areas to establish their own respective local programs.
“Another difference our program offers is that it is an opportunity for players to experience a full soccer season. We have uniforms, we are paying referees and we have a set schedule just like the recreational seasons,” Waggoner said. “Parents seem to be very excited these players will truly be able to learn soccer.”
While there are currently around 40 players registered, Waggoner expects that number to climb with the beginning of the school year. Buddies are volunteers who that help the players with practices and games if needed. Sometimes this will include being on the sidelines for games. McKinney is still looking for Coaches and Buddies, and those interested can contact Waggoner at TOPSoccer@mckinneysoccer.org.
“I believe those with special needs are underserved and there should be more sports and activities available,” Waggoner said. “This is something year-round that allows for players to socialize, get out and exercise and have fun. Just like with anyone else, playing sports can enrich their lives.”