When we first moved to Madison in 2018, we were eager to sign up our preschooler to play soccer for the very first time! Without hesitation, we headed to the AYSO website to explore youth soccer options.
Heading to AYSO first was a subconscious but obvious decision. The American Youth Soccer Association is known nationwide for being one of the most dependable, consistent, and credible soccer programs for youth ages 4-18 as well as adults, and we couldn’t wait to see what it was all about.
Madison is home to AYSO 498 which registers hundreds of Madison-area soccer players every year. They offer programs consistently throughout the year, including a spring season, fall season, and winter indoor season, as well as a variety of spring break and summer camps.
They also offer a plethora of opportunities for parent involvement via being a referee or volunteer coach.
AYSO SOCCER IN MADISON
AYSO 498 board member Katie Barron, who is also an active soccer parent, says that there are a number of key elements about AYSO that make this youth recreation soccer program really special and a great fit for many players and their families.
She says that when playing for AYSO 498 here in Madison, “there is a strong potential for those who want to really hone their skill sets,” says Barron. She continues to explain that AYSO is not only really fun for players but is actually a really strong option for players who want to develop their game-playing strengths as they play season after season.
“Players are supported through the strong sportsmanship that is built throughout the season as well as through the great community AYSO provides,” says Barron.
Barron explains that while AYSO 498 is known for developing really strong soccer players, it isn’t necessarily a league that has an “all-out competitive drive” that may turn some people away.
“It’s not about that,” she says. “You’re refining your skills while playing together with your team members.”
One of Barron’s favorite aspects of AYSO 498 that sets this youth soccer option apart from others is the opportunity to grow and develop as a player from preschooler all the way through high school.
AYSO 498 has leagues from 4U all the up to 19U as well as adult leagues.
“Ages four and under have more of a ‘playground league’ where they learn technical skills, such as ‘scooping ice cream’ or stopping the ball.”
When players reach the 5U-8U divisions, they’ll begin playing short-side games of 4×4. The 10U division plays 7×7, the 12U division plays 9×9, and the 14U-19U divisions play full teams of 11×11.
Youth players begin playing 20-minute games that are split into four five-minute quarters and eventually work their way up to 90-minute games (two 45-minute halves) in the 19U division.
Fall registration is happening now! Registration will officially end for the fall semester on Saturday, August 5th, and practices will begin on or around August 21st. The regular AYSO season will conclude on October 29th.
Practices are held throughout the week on days and times determined by the coaches, though games are held on Saturdays at either Palmer Park or Dublin Park. Some 10U-19U teams will occasionally play outside of Madison at parks in Harvest, Huntsville, Monrovia, etc.
Registration options and age bracket parameters are clearly shared on their website, making signing up your youth for a season with AYSO a cinch!
Those registering will see that their fee includes black shorts, two jerseys, and black soccer socks. Players will need to purchase their own shin guards, soccer cleats, and soccer ball to bring to practice.
For more information about registering for the fall AYSO 498 soccer season in Madison, click here.
Another element that makes AYSO 498 unique is its high emphasis on giving parents an opportunity to be involved as referees, coaches, or general volunteers. Barron shares that AYSO offers “a huge amount of training” in order to build “hands-on, very skilled coaches”.
Barron says that parents often thoroughly enjoy volunteering as coaches and reap tremendous benefits from their interactions with the kids.
“You get to see the growth that these kids have which is really rewarding,” says Barron.
When asked what often holds parents back from volunteering with AYSO, Barron says that some express concerns about the time commitment.
“AYSO is very upfront about the time commitment, though the time commitment isn’t scary,” she explains.
She says that while head coaches are always greatly needed and appreciated, there are other opportunities to volunteer with one’s AYSO team as well, such as serving as a coordinator or even a team manager.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities within AYSO, click here.
When asked why Barron personally recommends AYSO to anyone looking for a youth recreational soccer option, Barron says that this program is “super credible and big-time proven” which often leads to an incredibly rewarding, beneficial season for not only players but for those who enjoy supporting the players as well.