Administrators, Volunteers Needed for AYSO to Continue Kicking in Malibu

Malibu AYSO’s U-14 squad concludes its first practice of the season at Bluffs Park.

Malibu’s AYSO league is in a sudden death situation. 

The youth soccer program is on the verge of having to end its 30-year run in Malibu due to a lack of volunteers, including three recently vacated staff positions.

Malibu AYSO Assistant Regional Commissioner for the Upper Divisions Vince Bradley said the resignation of individuals in the positions of regional commissioner, assistant regional commissioner for lower divisions and registrar, as well as the overall small amount of volunteers, has put Malibu’s 2016 season in jeopardy. 

“We really need a call to action, unless people want to have to drive over the hill this fall for soccer,” he said. In order to operate, Malibu AYSO needs to fill the three administrative roles and acquire more than 100 other volunteers. 

AYSO, a nonprofit organization, has relied heavily on volunteers throughout its 52-year history of being one of the main national youth soccer organizations in the country. The Torrance-headquartered sports body claims a membership of 50,000 teams and 630,000 participants ages four to 19. 

Bradley said that if AYSO shuts down in Malibu, hundreds of players would have to go to Agoura or Pacific Palisades to play.

“People will have at least a one-hour round trip for practice and games,” he said. 

Malibu AYSO Board Member and Coach Tim Silvestre said he estimates that 25 to 30 percent of the boys and girls that play recreational soccer in Malibu would not play at all if AYSO is no longer in the city.

“The biggest impact here will be on the younger groups, from ages five to eight, where kids are introduced to the game in a fun and safe manner that allows them to fall in love with soccer,” he said. He explained that players return to AYSO, even if they are playing club or high school soccer. 

Malibu High School girls soccer player Abby Blackwood played Malibu AYSO soccer from ages six to 12. The junior said competing in the recreation league had a huge impact on her.

“It’s such an amazing program,” Blackwood said of AYSO. “It teaches great skills, how to be part of a team, a good sport and life stuff too. It started my love of soccer.” 

Silvestre said volunteers are needed for a bevy of roles. 

“Unfortunately, volunteer participation in Malibu has declined greatly over the past three years, and this last season found many volunteers working multiple jobs at the board level, while coaching teams and refereeing games during the week and on weekends,” he said. “That level of volunteer commitment is not sustainable any longer.” 

Bradley said the league has no problem getting volunteer coaches, but really needs volunteer referees and board members, and people to man the three key roles.

The regional commissioner runs the league’s day-to-day operations, the registrar vets player applications and the assistant regional commissioner for the lower divisions helps coordinate the divisions for kids ages four to seven.AYSO Deputy Executive Director Mike Hoyer explained that the organization is doing all it can to prevent Malibu’s league from shutting down.“Every effort will be made to prevent a shutdown of the AYSO Malibu Region,” Hoyer said. “There are approaches under consideration by the volunteer leadership to continue offering the AYSO Experience in the Malibu community.”

Silvestre shared there is a ton of gratification that comes with being a volunteer. 

“As a coach, it is immensely satisfying to pull a group of boys and girls together in August — kids of differing skills and athleticism — and watch them come together as a team of players that supports and likes each other over the course of the three-month season,” he said. 

Bradley believes Malibu’s AYSO really needs a spirit of volunteerism. 

“We need people to help now,” he said. “If not, we won’t have soccer in Malibu next fall.”

The soccer organization will host a town hall meeting on Feb. 11 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Michael Landon Community Center, located at 24250 Pacific Coast Highway, to discuss its ailments.