An Introduction to NASA and Youth Soccer

Soccer is the most popular sport on Earth with a history dating back to the ancient Persians. Shortly after his ascension in 1154, Henry II of England banned the game because it was interfering with archery practice. This is about the earliest written record we have of the game.

Although widespread popularity of the game is moderately new to the United States, soccer is by far the most popular sport for the rest of the world, with the 1998 World Cup final game boasting a worldwide television audience approaching an estimated 2.7 billion people.

If your family is new to this arena, you are going to find a number of options available to you through our club. The NASA program is designed to provide families with a soccer playing opportunity that is a challenging part of a well-rounded childhood. 

Parent Volunteers who respect players at every level of the game are the core of the NASA program. NASA is a recognized Partner at public and private schools in North Austin and has been nominated for AISD Partner of the Year and Project of the YearSTYSA Volunteer of the Year and Coach of the Year Awards have been earned by the  organization.

NASA is a member of, and abides by the rules of the Capitol Area Youth Soccer Association (CAYSA), in the Western District of the South Texas Youth Soccer Association (STYSA) of United States Youth Soccer (USYS) of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF).

Players are first grouped based on the age of the players on July 31st of each year. Instead of referring to the 7-year olds or the 10-year olds, the U.S. soccer convention is to refer to the Under-8 or Under-11 year olds, or the U8s and U11s. It can get confusing at first, because at some point during the fall and spring season, the Under-8s will have their 8th birthday. NASA rosters teams all the way through the U19 age group.

NASA is first and foremost a recreational soccer organization, intent on maximizing the amount of time and fun children have while actually playing soccer. The board has never authorized tryouts, and the rules regarding minimum player time are strictly enforced at all levels. The coaches are licensed and held to professional standards, but are unpaid volunteers (with the limited exception of the Rec+ program).

NASA Playing Options

Division IV (Recreational U5-10)

Under-05 through Under-10 is designated as Division IV. Starting at four (4) years of age, players (boys and girls) are placed on teams and develop beginning to intermediate technique in “small-sided” games. The team's field 3, 4, or 6 players on a side depending on the age bracket, and most play is against NASA teams. Starting at Under-10, teams may begin to play other teams in the greater Capitol Area Youth Soccer Association (CAYSA).

NASA pioneered the “small-sided” format in 1996, because it gives each player a better chance at playing the ball and provides a simpler game, which younger players can more easily grasp. The basic skills and tactics remain the same even when the players graduate into upper levels.

Teams in these age ranges are required by the higher soccer powers to be non-select. Any child registering who is under the age of ten (10) is placed on a team, and the teams are formed with the intent of balancing the average experience level of each team so that there are no “killer teams”. There are no “try-outs” and coaches do not participate in the formation of their teams.

There is usually one game and one practice of an forty five minutes to an hour and a half a week, depending on the age and team preferences. 

Division IV Academy/Rec+ (Recreational Plus U9-10)

Recreational Plus (Rec+) offers an option for young players that wish to participate in a more demanding soccer commitment. This program has been developed to provide a high quality and accelerated soccer learning environment. There are no tryouts and it is open to all Under-09 and Under-10 players (boys and girls), who have the desire and commitment to improve their skills in a fun team structured format working with professional coaches. Players will receive two 1½ hour training sessions on week nights and will play games and tournaments on the weekends against similar committed players in other associations.

Division III (Recreational U11-19)

Under-11 through Under-19 is designated as Division III and is designed for 10 year olds and older players to develop beginning to advanced techniques, and also for the child who is entering the sport late. Often, these players are starters on their school soccer teams but also have interest in other activity such as cheerleading, volleyball, band, football, or baseball. Teams typically practice once or twice a week, play a weekend game and may attend a tournament or two. Most play is inter-league against other registered CAYSA Division III teams. Some NASA Division III teams enter Division II competitions such as the Spring South Texas Cup. Any Division III team that wins the Fall CAYSA Tournament must advance to Division II, assuming that a majority of the players return.

Team formation policies are the same as Division IV with all applicants assigned without try-outs.

Parents with advanced licensing provide coaching. Because of the wide range of skill levels present on a single team, coaches are often not able to concentrate on individual skill development, and those players wishing to upgrade their playing level will find the optional skills/development sessions necessary.

Division II  and higher (U12-19)

This bracket is intended for players who are moderately well skilled and want to play at a higher level than Division III. Division II teams typically practice two times a week and play inter-league against other registered CAYSA Division II teams.

In general, NASA does not encourage Division II play, however, it will be considered on a case-by-case basis. NASA highly recommends that a team requesting to play in Division II should have played at least one (1) season as a Division III team. NASA does not allow U11 teams to play in Division II.

If a Division II or higher team is accepted for play under NASA, the following guidelines will apply:

  • Team must provide their own certified coaches and trainers
  • Minimum certification is a STYSA U-12 module or NSCAA State Diploma then an E License or NSCAA Regional Diploma for the older age groups
  • The Manager must meet all NASA/CAYSA/STYSA deadlines and filing requirements
  • The Coach or Manager must attend the NASA/CAYSA/STYSA required meetings
  • Team must wear NASA logo'ed uniforms
  • The team may attend any free clinic or free training session provided by NASA for NASA Division III teams
  • There can be no more than two (2) practices per week (in addition to any clinics offered by NASA)
  • The team must schedule practice and game fields via the ASDG Field Schedular
  • The team must abide by all NASA policies regarding field (both match and training) usage
  • The NASA Director of Coaching (or designate) may attend or participate in the team training sessions or games at his or her sole discretion
NASA has frequently had teams that were forced into a promotion to a higher division based on their on the field performance. Our goal is to support this success, while maintaining our recreational focus. 

NASA has fewer teams in the older age groups, and fewer options for player placement. New players are welcome at all ages, and when space is available, players will be placed on teams. 

Other Upper Division Playing Options

When a child reaches the age of ten (10), they may decide to try-out for a team in a select soccer organization. These are sometimes referred to as "competitive" or "travel" teams, but our recreational teams are competitive in the most sporting sense, and travel based on their level of play. 

Try-out sessions are held in the late spring for players wishing to register with an upper level team for the following fall season. Placement is based on the player's demonstrated abilities, development potential, and the number of available positions on the team. Players are chosen by a coaching committee and placed on team divisions according to skill level. Minimum playing time is not always guaranteed. Coaches are usually paid. A higher level of commitment is demanded of parents of these players because of the increased costs and frequent travel requirements. All of these pressures can result in a greater emphasis placed on winning at the cost of player development and fun. 

There is typically an assumption that Division II an higher teams are "select teams." NASA is committed to recreational soccer and the club has deliberately avoided adopting a select model. And NASA teams have proven year after year that a selection process is not necessary for player and team success at the higher competitive levels against teams from select organizations. We do encourage everyone to be aware of the options available at other organizations.

Division II / Super II 

This bracket is intended for children who are moderately well skilled, and who have decided that they really like the game and want to commit to playing it well. They should have not more than one other activity, which can compete for their commitment of time and energy. Practice and game attendance is mandatory. Division II is subdivided into two levels (II and Super II). Division II teams typically practice twice a week, play weekend games and attend several tournaments each season. Play is inter-league against other registered CAYSA Division II teams.

Coaching at this level is by advanced licensed trainers who are preferably not the parents of a team member. Coaches are also rotated periodically to expose the players to a wider range of coaching specialties.

Division I 

This bracket is for the player who has no other activity approaching his desire to play soccer. Travel is extensive, and practice is virtually year-round. Players at this level should be highly skilled for their age and intent on improving.

Coaching is by nationally licensed professionals.

O.D.P. (Olympic Development Program)

Late in the fall season, players age 14 and above are eligible for nomination to state and area O.D.P. teams. These teams gather the very best players for additional training and selection for a player pool from which will eventually be selected our National Team. Try-outs are by invitation only, and players selected have the opportunity to play in national and international competitions.

Adult Opportunities

NASA provides pick up playing opportunities for adults. Competition levels range from novice to advanced at any age.

NASA coaches, parents and friends are invited to join weekly adult soccer fundraising games throughout the year. These games provide adult players the opportunity to join in a 'pick-up' format with no long term team commitments.  Players donate $10 each time they play. Teams are coed, mixing accomplished players with novices under guidelines that allow first time players to quickly enjoy the game. These games are lots of fun for players and spectators, and embody the best of what soccer can be.  Game times and locations are posted on the NASA calendar.

Comparison of NASA Programs For Under-11 (10 year olds) and Older

U11 and older
Div II/Super II
U12 and older

 Div I
U12 and older

Practices per Week
1 or 2
Games per Week
1 or 2
 1 or 2
Opposing Teams
8 to 9
10 to 12
Licensed Coach
Professional Coach
Tournaments per Season
0 to 1
1 to 2
 2 to 4
Basic Fees per Year
$340 / $370
Additional Fees and Tournament Expenses
$0 to $50
$40 to $100
Level of Family Commitment
Precludes Other Sports/Activities

All Teams Play the regular season games in CAYSA: Austin, Bastrop, Copperas Cove, Dripping Springs, Georgetown, Marble Falls, Pflugerville, Round Rock, San Marcos, Temple, and other associations in the greater capitol area.