Malibu AYSO Thrives After Spring on the Brink

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Malibu AYSO girls and boys U16 teams at the Section 10 Championships in Bakersfield.

Malibu AYSO’s boys and girls U16 teams closed out the soccer league’s season in championship fashion. 

The two squads, composed of Malibu soccer players ages 16 and under, won the AYSO Section 10 championships in Bakersfield on Nov. 13. 

Malibu AYSO Regional Director Curtis Augspurger said the pair of championships perfectly cap a youth soccer season that was nearly shuttered earlier due to a lack of volunteer participation the local affiliate of the youth sports program needs to survive.

“To go from a program that was struggling, to end up with two championship sectional teams … this shows the kids in Malibu are worth providing the program for,” the first-year youth sports administrator said. “They made that definitive.” 

Malibu’s AYSO program almost ended due to a dire need of game day and administrative volunteers. Now, instead of Malibu youth soccer participants having to compete on the pitch in communities outside of Malibu, multiple participants can compete with their friends in Malibu, Augspurger said. 

The U16 boys and girls teams’ big Bakersfield wins are the first time in more than 20 years an AYSO team from Malibu has won the event. The soccer clubs won the section title after claiming tops in region and area tournaments. 

The 14-0 boys team, coached by Scott Schoenberger and Chris Hansel, plowed through competition en route to Section 10’s No. 1 spot. Before winning their championship, the girls team, 16-1-1, advanced to the championship after winning a penalty shootout in the semifinals. The team was helmed by Stewart Smith and William Buckley.

Other Malibu soccer teams also stood out at the soccer showcase. The U14 extra girls and U11 extra boys extra teams finished in third in their brackets at the sectional tournament. The U19 girls team also participated at sectionals. 

This weekend eight boys and girls U12 to U14 teams will participate in an area tournament. Two boys U10 teams will play in area finals. 

Six hundred and twenty youth played in Malibu AYSO this season, 75 more than last year. Augspurger said the volunteer support the league received from parents and adults in the community was immense and the youth league established some programs it hopes to continue in the 2017 season. 

He said one improvement AYSO hopes to make next year is how to train volunteer referees. Instead of having one weekend where volunteers spend hours learning how to officiate games in one course, Augspurger wants to videotape a training session and break the recording into chapters, so fledging game officials can train more leisurely. 

“The upside of the education is the play is better and kids respect the refs,” he said.

Augspurger was excited to see so many jerseys with “Malibu” written on them at the sectional and area tournaments, adding Malibu is “a force to be reckoned with, and we are one of the smallest regions in our area and that is rather impressive.”

The regional director noted Malibu AYSO’s greatest success as the enthusiastic smiles worn by parents and kids during contests all season. Augspurger said the league had quality players.

“We gave them a place to participate and play and they delivered,” he said. “Our parents came out and supported. Those are the two ingredients to make something successful.”