- Cullman, Alabama

May 3, 2013

Special needs soccer league coming to Heritage Park

By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times

— A free soccer league with no age limit is coming to town. Cullman Heritage Park will host games for the V.I.P. league for anyone with mental or physical disabilities starting in late May.

American Youth Soccer Organization’s “Very Important Players” league has an age range of four-year-olds and up. Players can register at the Cullman Civic Center on May 4, or the open registration is from May 6-25. The games will begin at the end of May.

“This league is going to require time and effort but will be very rewarding,” State Trooper Josh Cox said. “It is a unique opportunity to help others and have your heart blessed.”

The Special Needs Soccer League will be free for those registering, but Cox said donations are welcomed and appreciated.

“We have been fortunate enough to have corporate sponsors who have donated money to allow us to make this a free league,” Cox said. “We can always use donations for trophies, team pictures, and team parties. Please disregard the $50 fee on the flyer if you are registering someone.”

When questioned ‘why a youth soccer league?’ Cox described his connection and passion for those affected with mental and physical handicaps.

“Two people in my life have impacted me and my want to be involved with this league,” Cox said. “My aunt was born mentally handicapped and dealt with it her entire life. One of my best friends, who is 23, was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy when he was eight and he will be playing in the league.”

Cox said there also will be a “buddy system” with the players, and they will need volunteers to also help fulfill those roles.

“The buddy system is where we have someone that is the same age as the player, but does not have disabilities who will stand on the field with their player and help guide them through the game,” Cox said. “The time spent with this league can be used as community service hours.”

“Volunteers are needed and we really need players,” Cox said. “So if you know anyone who has special needs or someone whose children have special needs please encourage them to take advantage of this oppurtunity. This can be a great way for friendships to be built that will last a lifetime. This can also allow people with disabilities to have social interaction.”

To register or ask questions, please e-mail:

*Player registration/donations-Josh Cox-;

*Buddy Information- Jessica McBrayer     

*Coaching/Volunteer-Tommy Arbet-

For more information you can visit or the Cullman AYSO Facebook page.

Lauren Estes can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 270 or at