Special needs athletes finish out soccer season

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - They haven't won a state championship, yet dozens of athletes are celebrating the end of a successful season. On Saturday, the D'Iberville Youth TOP Soccer League closed out its 2008 season with some exciting games.

The league is open to South Mississippi children with any kind of disability. Fifty children dealing with everything from autism to deafness are able to feel like they are part of a team. Organizers say they've seen how participating has made a difference in young lives.

Allen Philcher is the league president. "In normal soccer, you teach the kids to play up to the ability of soccer. To be competitive and everything."

He said "In TOPS soccer, what we do is we bring the level of soccer down to their ability. We've seen a lot of different amazing improvements in a lot of children. Some of them who didn't the ability to communicate or speak with other children are now doing so. "

Fourteen-year-old Caleb Walls enjoys being in the league. "It means to have fun and stuff. Because it's not all about winning. It's about fun, playing with your team and having the support of your family and friends."

All the athletes received metals at a league awards ceremony.