The American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) was established in the Los Angeles area in 1964 with nine teams. It was the dream of a group of devoted soccer enthusiasts who started the organization in a garage. Today, AYSO has more than 50,000 teams and more than 650,000 players. It also employs 50 people at its National Support and Training Center in Hawthorne, California.
Over the years, AYSO has created many valuable programs and concepts. Most notably, AYSO revolutionized youth sports with its "Everyone Plays®" and "Balanced Teams" philosophies. In AYSO, each child who registers is guaranteed to play at least half of every game. To help create evenly matched games, all AYSO players are placed on new or "balanced" teams each year. These decisions are made based on each player's skill level and the overall ability of the team.
Since its establishment, AYSO has continued to grow and offer its membership relevant programs. AYSO is supported by more than 250,000 volunteers. Parents donate their time as coaches, referees, team parents, administrators or sponsors. In 1998, AYSO unveiled its new Coach Certification and Safe Haven programs. Each was designed to strengthen the organization's role in child protection. Although AYSO is primarily a youth sports organization, it realizes the importance of providing a safe and healthy atmosphere for children. AYSO is continually working to improve the education of its volunteers in the fields of child development, human behavior, and sports psychology. A strong emphasis is placed on ethics and sportsmanship and the development of the whole child.