Let the Games Begin! That’s the traditional phrase that has marked the start of the AYSO National Games since its first venue in Irvine, Calif., in 1988.
Those words will once again start off a week-long celebration that brings together AYSO players, volunteers and parents from across our country.
The Games were the brainchild of Mike Michalski, then Area Director of 10/B in West Hills, Calif. Michalski had been putting on successful tournaments for California players, coaches and referees for years. He wanted to share the good times and fun with more players and volunteers. He made a proposal that paved the way for the National Games. He gathered together some diligent, dedicated and daring men and women from the volunteer corps and the National Office–a few of them are still involved in AYSO–who would, in the AYSO spirit and tradition, make it happen.
The Michael Michalski Sportsmanship Trophy made its debut at National Games 2012 in Knoxville, Tenn. It’s awarded to the National Games team that best exemplifies Good Sportsmanship during the Games, one of AYSO’s long-standing Six Philosophies. During the National Games, there are observers at each field that rate the sportsmanship qualities of every team, making the Michalski award an honor across all age groups and genders.
The opening ceremony, the Soccerfest, the sportsmanship medals–they were all there in 1988. Over the years, traditions have been added as each venue wove a bit of its own spirit into the fabric. The National Games is everything AYSO: they reflect the excellence, tradition and spirit of our players, volunteers, spectators and Philosophies. Let the Games continue!