[ANNIVERSARY] The American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) will kick off its 50th anniversary Jan. 1, 2014 with a Rose Bowl Parade float, in conjunction with the city of Torrance, where AYSO was founded on 1964.
AYSO met its $100,000 fundraising goal to secure entry in the parade, which attracts more than 43 million TV viewers.
"It kind of captured the imagination of people across the country," said Lynn Berling-Manual, AYSO's chief marketing officer. "It is amazing the power of the Rose Parade."
AYSO started in Torrance 50 years ago with nine teams. It now has more than 50,000 teams and more than 600,000 players, and is supported by 250,000 volunteers.
Alumni include U.S. national team stars Landon Donovan and Alex Morgan, and Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid, who played in AYSO during its inaugural season. Rick Davis, the USA's first bona fide soccer star, who played alongside Pele and Franz Beckenbauer with the New York Cosmos, also got his start in AYSO.