Soccer camp for kids with disabilities celebrates 5 years in Savannah

Published: Sep. 4, 2023 at 10:18 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A soccer camp for children with disabilities is celebrating five years in Savannah.

The TOPSoccer Program has grown from just a few day camps in Savannah to three different locations and 15-day camps. Their next season is just around the corner.

This whole thing started with parents being frustrated with the lack of opportunities for their children with disabilities to get out and be active. It wasn’t until a local soccer club, a national outreach, and a parent with a vision joined forces to change that.

For some kids, sitting on the sidelines just isn’t an option.

“So I’m gonna be the coach today.”

But for kids like Ava Grace, up until a few years ago, the sidelines were the really only option.

“There just wasn’t a whole lot for the special needs children around here that she could get involved with,” said father Bryan McBride.

That was until an idea sparked between two people who barely knew each other.

“What I wanted to create when I first started Tormenta FC Academy was something for everyone, and there was a huge miss in the area where there wasn’t anything for kids with different abilities,” said Brad Nine, a TOPSoccer partner.

Little did Coach Brad know he wasn’t alone, on the other side of Savannah at Broughton Partners, the same conversation was happening.

“I was getting irritated because my daughter has autism and couldn’t participate in the after-school soccer program, so I reached out to Brad who ran it and he asked me If I wanted to do something about it,” said Cason Carter, a TOPSoccer sponser.

So they did.

“Marlee, can I play too?”

In five years’ time, growing from five to eight kids and only a few sessions in Savannah, to over 60 kids at each of the 15 sessions across the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry - TOPSoccer has certainly made its mark.

“When you come out here and get to see the smile on her face, and how excited she is, and she is bouncing up and down and we can’t keep up with her cause she is sprinting to her coach, you can’t really put a price tag on that,” said McBride.

Leaving the coaches players, and parents with smiles from post to post.

TOPSoccer is for kids four through 19 years old with physical or mental disabilities. The camps now run at three locations - Hardeeville, Statesboro, and Savannah.

If you would like more information on how to sign up, go to TOPSoccer’s website.