Through The Outreach Program for Soccer, referred to as “TOPSoccer,” physically and intellectually challenged children of any age are given the opportunity to kick a soccer ball around and score a goal.
It would not be possible without volunteers like Daniel Osterhage. The 14-year-old from Camas, who runs for the track team at Skyridge Middle School, found time to help the Camas-Washougal Kickers TOPSoccer team last fall.
Washington Youth Soccer awarded Osterhage for his efforts by naming him TOPSoccer Buddy of the Year. He received a plaque Monday at Cardon Field, behind Camas High School, and recorded a video message thanking the organization and the kids he got to work with. He also thanked his parents Gary and Marni, and Camas-Washougal Soccer Club TOPSoccer coordinator Tami Naffziger.
“When you put your mind to it, you can help somebody else out with something as simple as soccer,” Osterhage said. “For these kids, just playing soccer is a reward. When you see the kids smile when they score a goal, or pass the ball to their friends, it’s rewarding. You know you’re doing something good for the community.”
In 1991, U.S. Youth Soccer took its mission of making soccer “the game for all kids” to a new level by launching TOPSoccer. Washington Youth Soccer also recognized the need for accessible soccer programs for children of all ages and disabilities. With increasing support, local community members and volunteers spent months developing what would become the basis of TOPSoccer in the state of Washington.
Today, WYS proudly boasts dozens of TOPSoccer programs across the state. The dedication and support of countless volunteers, buddies and coaches, has given hundreds of players with special abilities the opportunity to play soccer.
On Saturday, TOPSoccer athletes from Oregon and Washington participated in their own Clash at the Border, on the Liberty Middle School fields in Camas. Osterhage was out there encouraging the kids, along with several other players from the Washington Soccer Academy.
Osterhage is already talking about volunteering with TOPSoccer again next fall. He’s hooked on helping others.
“They showed me that I can change someone’s life by helping them play soccer,” Osterhage said. “I can’t wait to get back out there. I love seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces.”