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AYSO History

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: 

Only fifteen players to a team  – When one team had 33 players, the other team had dropped out because the other team could not field seven.

Every player turning up for a game must play at least twenty minutes of each half. – Some teams had started with over 20 players, but dropped below 12 players because some boys or their friends did not get to play.

Elimination of “ethnic names” – Very hard to ask native-born American boys to play for a foreign named team. I had no trouble with my team. I still had the original and 8 were Americans.

Only regions within ten miles of a central point are admitted – We lost good coaches and referees because of lengthy travel.

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.

February 1965 – The first games were played at Jefferson in Torrance. So we have to thank the City of Torrance for granting their facilities to us and for enabling us “To get off the ground”. At these games, I can only remember the following being present: our entire Executive Board; Duncan Duff who was delighted to see his “baby”; Bill Wolstencroft, George Kay and Billie Carson who were coaching; and John Cooper who refereed both games. If I have missed any volunteers for that day, you must remember I was excited and please forgive me.


Before the end of the season, we had nine teams and I had registered 105 players.

Our First Culture Exchange

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.

August 1965 – Because of our very successful first year of operations, we were accepted into the Southern California Soccer Association and so became affiliated with U.S.S.F. and F.I.F.A., the World Body.

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.

Addendum – 1989

 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.

The only negative element that I have seen during the 25 year soccer explosion is the sad fact that thousands of leagues have been formed adopting the “Every One Plays” theme, yet not joining the “Parent” of “The Successful Theme”. In fact, many regions of AYSO have been formed in order to learn “The Experience of AYSO” only to break off later with all kinds of frivolous reasons. The true one being that, “I would rather be the president of the Jolly Green Giant Valley League” then a regional commissioner of AYSO. All that these people have accomplished is to severely dilute soccer’s “strength in numbers”. So we remain vulnerable to discrimination and apathy by the media. Wake up you twenty million to your real potential and join with the U.S. Soccer Football Association especially that we now have the 1994 World “Soccer” cup in our hands. If this unity is not achieved, I have my doubts about its success.

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

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