If you donned a jersey and shin guard when you were a youngster, and took to a field on a bright weekend morning, ready to chase down a black and white ball while assisting team mates along the way, chances are you were AYSO.
The American Youth Soccer Organization has been a major part of millions of kids' sporting lives, and the lives of their parents, too, over the last half century. It started in Los Angeles (update: Torrance) in 1964 and still runs its headquarters from Torrance, making the seen-everywhere outfit very much a SoCal-grown thing.
Which makes AYSO's 50th anniversary extra special 'round these parts. The organization is going for "the biggest pick-up soccer game on earth" on Saturday, May 3, a lofty but doable goal, for sure. Nope, a field the size of Nebraska has not been built, but smaller meet-ups'll spring hither and thither across the nation on that day, all to salute a soccer stalwart's half-centennial.
So where can you find a SoccerFEST pick-up game on that day? There are several Southern California locations, including Encino, Culver City, Riverside, Los Angeles, and Santa Ynez.
If you're kid is AYSO, you're good to go, but there's happy news for non-AYSO players: Some events will accept your entry. Just check ahead of time.
Our sense from the sidelines? It isn't too controversial. Over a half million kids are AYSO-involved, meaning the pick-up games'll be packed, as they should be for a mondo anniversary party. The achievement of "biggest pick-up soccer game on earth" is a world record that just might be achieved, then, without breaking too much of a sweat.
Well, perhaps some sweat. Soccer is very go-go-go, after all, and one of our nation's favorite recreational pastimes. Saluting a powerhouse of the game with some perspire-nice play just seems like the right thing to do.