BUSC/Pleasanton TopSoccer program underway!

By Dennis Miller

When Scott McMillin took over as President of the Board of Directors for the Ballistic United Soccer Club, he was adamant about developing and growing a club that offered programs for every youth that wanted to play soccer.

Part of that has turned into TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer). It is a community-based training and team placement program for young athletes with disabilities, organized by youth soccer association volunteers.

The program – this is the second year for Ballistic – is designed to bring the opportunity of learning and playing soccer to any boy or girl who has a mental or physical disability.

“I’ve always had my eye on it,” said McMillin. “I want to get more kids involved. It’s about inclusivity – whether it’s a financial or disabled situation.”

The key to a successful program falls with getting a person to run the program that is well versed in working with kids that have special needs.

Fortunately for McMillin and BUSC they didn’t have to leave home to find such a person.

Dane Shaffar is the coach for the Ballistic 2012 Premier team, but more importantly is that Shaffar is also an Adaptive P.E. teacher in the Pleasanton Unified School District.

“One of my passions is working with kids with special needs,” said Shaffar, who grew up in Pleasanton and attended Valley View, Pleasanton Middle School, then Amador Valley. “When Ballistic talked to be about TOPSoccer, I was all over it. It combined my two worlds – coaching and teaching.”

“He is the perfect guy for this program,” said McMillin of Shaffar.

The first of the next group of sessions with Ballistic and the Pleasanton Rage began April 21, and will run every Friday through May 26. The sessions will take place at Muirwood Park and costs $50 per participant.

It’s an incredible program. Brock Robey ran the E-Soccer program at Ballistic 10 years ago. He and his wife Anne have a family with special-needs and know how needed the TOPSocceer program has become.

“Being a family with special-needs ourselves and having run a full-inclusion soccer program in Pleasanton for years, we cannot emphasize enough how valuable TOPSoccer is for our community,” said the couple. “Not only is it a game-changer and lifesaver for families with all types of special needs, but it will literally change the trajectory of the lives of the youth and adults who volunteer to coach and mentor these players!”

The structure of each session is straightforward.

Each participant is assigned a volunteer, trained “Buddy” who is typically a little older and neurotypical. This Buddy works with their player individually and makes sure they are safe, engaged, supported, and having fun.

“We always love having volunteers,” said Shaffar.

For more information contact go to: https://busc.org/topsoccer/ or https://pleasantonrage.org/programs/topsoccer

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Dennis Miller