The following article was written by Bill Hughes, one of the founding fathers and guiding lights of AYSO soccer.
AYSO Philosophy and History
As Written By Bill Hughes, April 2, 1989
1956 - Eight other nuts and myself formed the first southern California junior (under 14) soccer league comprising of eight “ethnic” teams and one “American” team, my Hollywood cubs. At the end of our first season, we had only five remaining. So a special meeting was called to ascertain why. I proposed that the following rules be adopted:
Every one of the above suggestions was voted down. The rest of the season lasted only six weeks and so ended this league.
So junior soccer was now eliminated for the next seven years. Who knows where soccer would be today with those added seven years?
July 1964 – Duncan Duff, president of the Southern California Soccer Association, requested that we try junior soccer again. My reply was that we would do so based on the 1956/57 sad experiences by completely rewriting the constitution By-laws and Rules & Regulations for such, including terms – “Prelude 1-4”; Duncan was aware of these, as he was the only one to vote in their favor at the 1957 meeting. When ready, I requested that he supply me with men to assist me who would not eliminate any of Saad 1-4, as I did not want to waste another 12 months as I had done before.
August 1964 – Duncan arranged the meeting place and time and so I was introduced to Ralph Acosta, Steve Erbos, Ted McLean and Hans Streele. I presented my format and Steve Erbos suggested only one change: Let’s go national instead of only state wise. It was agreed to unanimously. So the name was changed from “So Calif. Junior Soccer League” to “The American Youth Soccer Organization – AYSO”. Bill Hughes was nominated to be president by Steve Erbos, but declined, “saying that this would be our first and maybe last mistake as I was still to typically British to be the head of an American organization”. I nominated Hans Stierle (Torrance) to be president as he was the only one native born American with soccer experience. I wish to add at this time that this was the finest act I ever did for soccer in America during my forty years involvement. Hans and his wife Crystal, by their hard work and enthusiasm for AYSO contributed immensely to the success it attained. The following offices were filled also:
Vice-president – Ralph Acosta – (east L.A.)
Executive Secretary – Bill Hughes – (Hollywood)
Treasurer – Steve Erbos – (Culver City)
Recording Secretary – Ted McLean (L.A.)
The meeting started at 8:30 PM and was completed by 10:00 PM and so it took only one and half-hour for “AYSO.” to be born. We all thought this was an excellent start to our project.
Before the end of the season, we had nine teams and I had registered 105 players.
July 1965 – Vice-president Ralph Acosta arranged and brought over the Mexico City, “The Anglo-French School” soccer team, who were under 12 years of age. Naturally, our boys were out-classed. But really enjoyed playing against foreigners and were looking forward to a return match in Mexico. Unfortunately, Ralph passed away and so the game never came to be.
April 1967 – Because of support from the Los Angeles Toros S.C. (professional team), some of our members belonged to their supporters club and filled most of its executive board. We were invited to play a preliminary game in the Coliseum and this was to be televised. Our season had just ended and so the AYSO overall championship was to be played with its subsequence presentation of the team cup and player’s medals. To us, this was a perfect way to attract teams and players for next season. However, one fly in the ointment. What if the game ended in a tie? My suggestion was to end it quickly by penalty kicks. This was accepted and so while insignificant at the time, AYSO invented penalty kicks as a sweet ending to ties when necessary. Only in the last (recent) World Cup did F.I.F.A. adopt this solution nearly 20 years later. Unfortunately, because of our involvement with an “out-law” team, the L.A. Toros, we were ourselves “outlawed” from Tus S.C. Soccer F.A. and etc. I have always promoted “The Relative of AYSO” to F.I.F.A. as I believe in “United we stand, divided we fall”. But we had no choice but to accept such a “gift” and indeed we received great publicity that resulted in additional teams and players. I am very happy that at last AYSO has been returned to the fold thanks to Burt Haines.
1968 – Thanks to the fine effort Howard Krowfeifer (Hollywood) (our treasurer at the time), we were accepted by the state of California as a non-profit organization and so registered.
1969 – Under the direction and guidance of Joe Bonchonsky (Torrance) and Ron Litterfair (Torrance), the concept of “Balanced Teams” was adopted and so made AYSO still more attractive and enjoyable to play in.
1970 – Ron Littlefair (Torrance) promoted the idea of the “self insurance plan” which fortunately was accepted by the Board. The plan must have saved AYSO millions of dollars since its inception and so left these monies available for many other projects notably advertising and culture exchange.
1972 – Girls soccer promoted by Joe Korbus, Mario Maehabo and Ron Rickleffs in the San Fernando Valley region. An immediate success, rapidly expanding to the rest of the regions.
Note: There was a page 8 that was to be inserted at this point and has not been found.
1975 – Because of my wife’s terminal illness, I had to resign from AYSO in 1968 in order to devote my time to her remaining years. After Sue passed away in 1973, I immediately plunged back into AYSO coaching senior girl’s teams. It was here I heard the following remark: “I don’t know why I am playing soccer because there is no senior women’s league afterwards”. I resolved immediately to solve this obvious problem and so I with fourteen female “Soccer Nuts” this time formed the “American Ladies Soccer Organization”. (A.L.S.O.). The very first organized women’s soccer in the U.S.A.
So thanks to AYSO, we have women’s soccer and spirited it is. I have seen better displays of soccer by these teams than so-called World Cup games. I think I should know. I have been involved in the game over 60 years now. By the way, in 1996, “The U.S.S.F.A. formed a “women’s” division.
1. In 1968 only 6 Parochial High Schools and one college, U.C.L.A were playing soccer in the whole of Southern California. Because of the explosion of AYSO junior soccer, high schools are now in the hundreds and colleges by the dozens. It must be realized that the rest of the country in regards to soccer was in the same dismal state. Now however, according to the National Sporting Goods Association, there are twenty million soccer players, 80% below the age of twenty.
I end by giving my heartfelt thanks to all of the millions (especially the kids) who have made my dream come true and “soccer to become a major sport in the U.S.A”. It is!!!! We are now sixth. In 1964 we were not in the first fifty!!! Thanks again.
For bigger and better soccer, Bill Hughes 5/2/89