KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/release) -- Nine thousand soccer players, coaches, officials and spectators have descended on Knoxville for the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) National Games 2012.
The event officially kicked off Tuesday evening at Thompson-Boling Arena with the Parade of Teams.
"I'm gonna be so excited for these kids who will never have had this kind of attention showered upon them," Tom Tobin, Executive Director for AYSO, said before the ceremony started.
One by one, each team paraded around the arena floor, cheering and waving to the thousands sitting in the stands. Many teams carried a flag or a banner, representing their team name and which city they're from.
The AYSO National Games only takes place every two years, and this is the first time it will take place in Tennessee. Approximately 220 teams from all over the country have come together for a week of soccer, cultural exchange and fun.
AYSO Section 5/Area B is playing host for the National Games 2012. The Section, which encompasses most of East Tennessee and Southeast Kentucky including Knox County, Sevier County, Morristown, Jefferson County, Greeneville, Harrogate/Middlesboro/Pineville/New Tazewell, Norris, Lake City, Clinton, Blount County, Cocke Co, Newport, Rogersville, Bulls Gap, and Hancock County.
The AYSO National Games 2012 will take place at six (6) venues throughout Knox County, including Tommy Schumpert/Rifle Range, John Tarleton, Ball Camp/Nicholas Ball, US Cellular Complex, Victor Ashe Park, and Regal Soccer Stadium at the University of Tennessee Knoxville Campus.
One of the unique requirements in hosting this tournament is the challenge of finding soccer fields and event logistics for the tournament.
The Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation (KTSC) assisted AYSO Section 5/Area B in bidding on and securing the AYSO National Games 2012. KTSC along with the UT Sports Medicine, University of Tennessee Medial Center, Rural Metro, Buddy's Bar-B-Q, DeRoyal and Walgreens continue to work with AYSO officials to provide services for the event.
“It is very exciting to host such a prominent event,” said Kim Bumpas, President of KTSC. “Premier soccer athletes from across the U.S. will be attending the National Games, and we are excited the event is coming to Tennessee for the first time in its history. We look forward to showing the participants, their families, friends, coaches, and fans all that Knoxville has to offer.”
AYSO differentiates itself from other soccer organizations and tournaments through its mission and philosophies. The AYSO mission is to develop and deliver quality youth soccer programs which promote a fun, family environment. AYSO also puts a strong emphasis on its core six philosophies. AYSO's philosophies are living tenets that separate it from other sports organizations.
Everyone Plays®, Balanced Teams, Open Registration, Positive Coaching, Good Sportsmanship and Player Development are the cornerstones of the six philosophies illustrated below:
Everyone Plays®: The AYSO goal is for kids to play soccer so it is mandated that every player on every team must play at least 50% of every game.
Balanced Teams: Each year AYSO forms new teams as evenly balanced as possible because it’s more fun and a better learning experience when teams of similar ability play. It allows for each player to gain the experience of a wide variety of teammates of different skill levels.
Open Registration: The AYSO program is open to all children between four and 19 years of age who want to register and play soccer. Interest and enthusiasm are the only criteria for playing. There are no elimination try-outs and nobody gets cut.
Positive Coaching: Encouragement of player effort provides for greater enjoyment for the players and leads to better-skilled and better-motivated players. A coach can be one of the most influential people in a child’s life, so AYSO requires they create a positive experience for every boy and girl.
Good Sportsmanship: AYSO strives to create a positive environment based on mutual respect rather than a win-at-all-costs attitude, and the program is designed to instill good sportsmanship in every facet of AYSO.
Player Development: The AYSO belief is that all players should be able to develop their soccer skills and knowledge to the best of their abilities, both individually and as members of a team, in order to maximize their enjoyment of the game.