Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
AYSO answered the call 40 years ago
by Mike Woitalla, June 3rd, 2011 3:35PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  women's national team, women's world cup, youth boys, youth girls

MOST COMMENTED

By Mike Woitalla

Sometimes we older folks feel compelled to tell our children about how different things were when we were kids.

No Internet. No cell phone. If you wanted to watch your favorite TV show, you had to be in front of the television right when it aired – and no fast-forwarding through the commercials.

Some of these stories amuse the children. (Show them a boom-box compared to an iPod.)

But when one explains that not too long ago playing soccer – or team sports in general – wasn’t an option for young girls, it prompts one to revisit and appreciate how the change occurred.

The 40th anniversary of AYSO launching girls soccer coincides nicely with this summer’s Women’s World Cup, at which, as usual, the USA will field players who got their introduction to soccer in AYSO.

“Why can’t we play?” was the question posed four decades ago to Joe Karbus, now known as the father of AYSO girls soccer.

The question came from girls who watched their brothers enjoying soccer in Granada Hills, Calif. Karbus, whose daughter Kimberly was among those asking, knew there was only one way to respond:

“Why not? Let’s start a league.”

Karbus grew up with the traditional American sports of baseball, basketball and football. He played junior varsity football at the United States Naval Academy and soccer still seemed like a foreign game when his sons, Joe Jr. and Tom, were lured to the sport by AYSO, which was founded in 1964.

“I was fascinated by all the movement,” says Karbus. “But it was obvious something missing, at least to me. The girls would be on the sidelines while the boys were playing and the girls would kick the ball around whenever one became available. They were dying to get into the action.”

Karbus got soccer balls from AYSO, pooled $5 contributions together to buy material for bibs to serve as uniforms, and launched a four-team, 7-a-side league with about 30 girls.

Seeing girls chasing soccer balls in today’s America is as common as spotting boys on the field, but back then it was such a novelty that the Los Angeles Times sent reporters to see what Karbus had started.

The Times' headline announced “Girls Get Own Soccer …” and reported that Karbus was coaching four teams, the Pink Panthers, Magnificent 8, Rockettes and Fillies. San Fernando Valley AYSO Commissioner Ron Ricklefs explained that “a core of girls who were less than content to repeat as cheerleaders for the boys’ games” inspired the organization to create girls leagues.

Karbus recalls, “It was so novel, but it was so natural, that it really caught fire.”

AYSO's launch of girls soccer predated Title IX and came long before the gender-equity law was enforced. When, in 1991, the USA won the inaugural Women’s World Cup, the team included Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Brandi Chastain, Carin Jennings-Gabarra and Mary Harvey, who all started out in AYSO.

American youth soccer has now become ridiculously expensive, but AYSO continues to provide low-cost soccer to American children because it clings to its belief in volunteer coaches while doing an excellent job providing age appropriate coaching education.

The U.S. team aiming to lift its third World Cup trophy this summer in Germany will as always include AYSO alums, such as midfielder Shannon Boxx, who helped the USA win Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2008.

Alex Morgan scored six goals in her first 14 games for the USA, including a crucial strike in a World Cup qualifying clash with Italy.

"I played AYSO for about eight years until I began playing club at the age of 13 or 14," said Morgan, who starred at Cal Berkeley. "I continued to play AYSO because all of my friends in school played AYSO and still to this day are my best friends. I really enjoyed AYSO because it allowed me to play other sports. When kids get into club sports too early, they tend to get burned out with one sport too early and do not pursue soccer.”

(Mike Woitalla, the executive editor of Soccer America, played AYSO ball in Hawaii in the 1970s and now coaches youth soccer for East Bay United in Oakland, Calif. His youth soccer articles are archived at YouthSoccerFun.com.)

Further reading: AYSO: Where The Volunteer Model Lives On



0 comments
  1. James Madison
    commented on: June 6, 2011 at 10:59 p.m.
    Interesting that Alex Morgan, who may be the most soccer smart player on the current woman's national team, advises against playing club soccer, but continuing instead to try other sports until one is 13-14.


Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Youth Soccer Insider
Is it OK to play in pain?     
"What's the difference between discomfort and pain? And is it OK for me to keep playing ...
The benefits of pool play vs. traditional leagues for U-10s     
The Youth Soccer Insider asked Sam Snow, Technical Director of U.S. Youth Soccer, to explain the ...
Ref Watch: Why three is so much better than one     
When I moved to Florida for business 27 years ago, I lived and worked in Orlando ...
Tab Ramos auditions new talent for U-20 World Cup     
Coach Tab Ramos has called up three players to the U.S. U-20 national team, which is ...
George Altirs boosts New Jersey-area youth ball     
As a boy, George Altirs spent his free time playing as much soccer as possible in ...
Are tire crumbs on fields a cancer threat?    
Some environmental and health advocacy groups have claimed that the crumb rubber infill, used in artificial ...
A World Cup for Richie Williams, better late than never     
Richie Williams might just be the USA's most successful player who never played in a World ...
USA avoids debacle in U-17 World Cup qualifying    
Ultimately, the USA's quest to qualify for the 2015 Under-17 World Cup hinged on shots from ...
Americans down to one last chance at U-17 World Cup qualifying    
One of the U.S. national team program's consistencies for nearly three decades was that the USA ...
Video Games vs. Youth Soccer, the mismatch    
In an article by John O'Sullivan, founder of Changing the Game Project, he writes that three ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives