LAHAINA — You’d be hard-pressed to find an individual better suited to lead a youth sports program than Own Ueno.
Now entering his seventh season as the regional commissioner of West Maui AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization), Ueno blends an easy-going personality with his dedication to the community in a continuing contribution to the welfare of the children here.
Ueno’s soft-spoken and unassuming leadership has attracted a deep and loyal following among West Side soccer families to form a board of directors that produces a quality youth athletic experience for the 400-plus registered participants in the program.
The board includes Annie Hayes, assistant commissioner; Sam Aki, coaching administrator; Tony Griffith, regional referee administrator; Marilyn Jorgensen, treasurer; Holly Perdergast, child volunteer protection advocate; James Hayes, safety director; Annabehl Sinclair-Delaney, registrar; Sky Delaney, referee mentoring; Marilyn Ueno, VIP coordinator; and Mark Altier, age group administrator.
This familiar group has established a lasting blueprint over the past several years for success in youth sports in following the national AYSO guidelines. At the top of that list are the six AYSO directives: Everyone plays at least half of the game; registration is open and there are no tryouts; the teams are balanced; positive coaching is the standard; sportsmanship is required; and player development is encouraged.
West Maui AYSO is divided into six age group categories, starting with the Under 5 Division and on up to the U-14 teams, as well as the VIP players — the special needs children coached by Marilyn Ueno.
There are 37 West Maui teams that will play eight- to ten-game schedules at venues all across the Valley Isle.
West Maui AYSO kicked off the current season on Sept. 5 and will play on through Nov. 21. The highlight of the year will be the Maui Friendship Games on Oct. 17-18 at the Upcountry field at Eddie Tam. Forty-eight teams from the West Side, Central Maui, Upcountry and Kihei will take part in the goodwill tournament.
“West Maui AYSO is stable and running smoothly thanks to our board of directors and the dedicated group of core volunteers,” said Commissioner Ueno.
“There are so many experienced board members and coaches here that make managing the organization easier. Everybody — from team moms to coaches — is responsible and enthusiastic. My biggest concern is that eventually we will need better fields, and more of them, as currently we are stretched using the Lahaina Recreation Center fields and Napili Park for practices and games.”