1963 & earlier

THE YEARS PRIOR TO 1964

In the beginning, a background of challenges had to be undertaken in order to find the right combination of requirements for a successful youth soccer organization to be founded in America. Throughout the United States of America, many men and women, with their own experience as youth in foreign countries, knew that youth soccer in America was highly desired for our American youth but, too often, those who initiated youth soccer programs were confronted by demands to meet "old country" procedures. Often called "ethnic" soccer and with leaders, who meant well, the ability to "get together" was near impossible. Five men in the Los Angeles Area, all with years of previous attempts to find the right combination, had struggled for years but past circumstances were never ripe for the establishing the ideal organization. In the Pioneers of AYSO Story, we will first honor these five men, their families and then the tens of thousands of leaders who championed the revolution of Americanizing the youth soccer programs in America.   
 
First, these five men, Bill Hughes, Hans Stierle, Steve Erdos, Ralph Acosta, and Ted McLean, responded to Duncan Duff, the president of the Greater Los Angeles Soccer League, who recognized that their previous attempts to start youth soccer leagues had failed, and to, once again, come together and find the procedures that would succeed. It is important that this website provide a history, especially of these five men, to reveal that the same circumstances prevailed nationwide and that they were willing to devote their energies and experience to develop an American organization that resulted in a solution to the age old problems that stifled most all others.
 
In this website, the "profiles" of each of the five men will be prepared to tell their "personal story" and thereby give you a personal capsule of the founders of AYSO. Throughout the Pioneers of AYSO story their action items will be included to indicate the obstacles overcome. It might be stated that Bill Hughes, Hans Stierle, and Steve Erdos were most successful but it is the fact that Ralph Acosta and Bill McLean also devoted full energy to their efforts and the lessons learned. Ralph Acosta succumbed to cancer during the first two years of AYSO and Ted McLean established the ground work in his assigned area that eventually succeeded. Los Angeles was organized in four different locations but only two had succeeded during the first year, West Los Angeles (Culver City, headed by Steve Erdos) and South Los Angeles (Torrance, headed by Hans Stierle). A total of 9 teams, 125 players, would complete the first year in 1964-65. The stories before 1964 are filled with "trials and tribulations" and are similar to starts of youth programs nationwide.  1963 and earlier are never to be forgotten because, therein, the tenacity of these five men overcame what was endured throughout the Americas in finding the most successful introduction of the sport of soccer to our American youth.   The Pioneer Story before 1964 is worthy of summarization.
 
In 1956, Bill Hughes, one of the founders of AYSO initiated a youth soccer league within the adult Greater Los Angeles Soccer League (affiliated). Bill Hughes had the support of the adult league but the “old country” procedures based on ethnic teams were destined for complex difficulties in the USA. In 1956 there were eight youth teams in the GLASL and the unwritten requirement that each youth team had to be of one ethnic group complicated the operation of each team. For example, most teams had their players traveling too many miles for twice-a-week practices and away games in the City of Los Angeles resulting in unlimited time consumption in traveling and entire teams terminated. Most teams had too many players and without a rule of each player having required playing time, many players dropped out early in the season. The “old country” soccer adults (traditionalists) wanted immediate championship teams and limited the players to the best qualified and, consequently, late developers were denied their learning period.  The teams had no connection to one town, or school, and struggled with a limited, local ethnic support group. The players were not found with allegiance to one city or widening fan base. Many teams folded and the league did not survive its first year but lessons were learned and documented.
 
Bill Hughes during this 1956 adventure (with his own non-ethnic American team in the league) studied the pros and cons of organizing a youth league to meet the challenges of an American organization in the USA. Hans Stierle, with an extensive youth soccer background (Chicago, Germany, Los Angeles' Garvey Park) evidenced a very long period of trials and tribulations that prepared him well. Steve Erdos, a Rumanian, was a catalyst for Bill and Hans to continue the strong pursuit of meeting all challenges. Ted McLean and Ralph Acosta complemented Bill, Hans, and Ralph and provided essential shaping in the beginning years. In review, it took the combination of these five youth soccer traditionalists and enthusiasts with their individual experiences to provide the energy to gather together and embrace the philosophy that dominated the years of AYSO. The “EVERYONE PLAYS” philosophy became the first hallmark of Americanization and while it presented many challenges in the future it was the heartbeat for youth soccer to succeed via AYSO in this new land. The story of Bill Hughes is a book unto itself. The story of Hans Stierle, the first president of AYSO, in the first years is classic because he evidenced prior years of solid progress with the youth, first in the Chicago area, then in Germany, and finally in the County of Los Angeles (Garvey Park). Each of the five founders, with their extended experience and identical objectives made it possible to commence a new beginning for youth via soccer in the United States. Each founder has made major contributions to a story that must be told. The Pioneer Story of AYSO begins with five founders in the right place at the right time. 50 years later, 2014, more than 6 million American youth would experience the sport of soccer in America through AYSO.    

In looking back, credit must be given to “USSF affiliated soccer” via The Greater Los Angeles Soccer League for the opportunity and men that commenced the trial period and the resulting knowledge that determined that the “old country” youth program format was not a viable procedure for youth soccer to grow within the USA.  Men like Duncan Duff, Bill Hughes, Hans Stierle, Steve Erdos, (and many others) had the best interests of youth in soccer but it was the perseverance and foresight with the love of “old country” soccer that enabled five men to start the youth soccer program implementing those adjustments that eventually resulted in the most successful independent youth soccer organization in the Americas, AYSO, AMERICAN YOUTH SOCCER ORGANIZATION.

The Pioneers of AYSO present a story of players, parents, coaches, referees, laborers, and administrators who worked together, played together, and in the 50 years of our American youth during a technology revolution found the time to enjoy the physical exercise and development of leadership skills therein that is one of the primary goals of AYSO. It is the intent of the Pioneers of AYSO STORY to honor players and parents herein and to detail their individual stories with unlimited pages of pleasure and achievements. The PIONEER STORY is awesome and never ending. Let us enjoy and participate with the knowledge that we have just begun. It will take years to write this never-ending Pioneer Story and it will take the efforts of many to even come close in honoring "all"  those who are worthy of their great efforts.  Most importantly, the Pioneers of AYSO STORY is your story worthy of being proclaimed.   
 
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