Amy Schweizer, a career-driven individual in the sports industry and a Marine spouse, had to redefine herself after a PCS and raising children. Little did she know that a volunteer opportunity with youth soccer in Okinawa, Japan, would turn into Tiny Troops Soccer, a sports organization for military children to learn the fundamentals of soccer.
Schweizer played soccer on the Division III college level for Milikin University and then played on the professional scene for the Cincinnati Lady Hawks. When her days on the pitch came to a close, Amy earned her Master’s Degree in Sports Management from Illinois State University. She worked with professional sports teams, including the Philadelphia 76’ers, Philadelphia KiXX, and the Jacksonville Jaguars. She met her husband at a job fair, where her booth was next to his Marine Corps booth.
After marrying, the Schweizer family lived in California for a short time before finding themselves in Okinawa. Amy had a hard time finding a promising career in sports. “When you’re a career-minded person, having that [career] taken away was very upsetting to me and really kind of caused some strife,” said Amy. When she was approached by another spouse looking for soccer coaching help, Amy quickly joined in. She immediately saw the need for military kids to get active and learn new skills, and Tiny Troops Soccer was established shortly after.
Since its humble beginnings, Tiny Troops Soccer spans eighteen states and three countries with an administrative team of eight people and numerous coaches. “We’re the only sports group that caters specifically to military kids,” said Amy. “We focus on ages two through five, and that was done on purpose because at least a couple of years ago, most of the athletic programming, especially on bases, started at age of five. So there was just nothing for the younger kids to do.”
Civilian children are also allowed to participate in Tiny Troops Soccer. “We actually really encourage that so we can build the military-civilian relationships in our locations,” said Amy.
The focus on younger children sets Tiny Troops Soccer apart from the rest. The main focus is on children ages two through five, but a “soccer playtime” is available for ages twelve months to twenty-three months with self-guided playtime with soccer equipment.
“A lot of people say you can’t teach two-year-old soccer,” said Amy. “The goal for this age is to build on their gross motor skills and build the foundations that they’ll need for recreational soccer when it’s age-appropriate.”
While developing skills for later in life is essential, the main thing Amy and her team want to accomplish is a safe space for military kids to just have fun and have something to look forward to in the middle of the unpredictable military lifestyle.
“I don’t even consider us really an organized sport at this age,” said Amy. “Really. It’s just a gathering of play-based activities that are also teaching soccer skills. So we’re not like in drills and in line. We don’t have lines. Every kid has a ball, and every kid is moving and playing. And we really just want our kiddos to have something to look forward to each week. We want to be something reliable because the military world can be very unreliable.”
On top of running Tiny Troops Soccer, Amy has written a children’s book called “I Will Be Okay: Adventures of a Military Kid.” You can purchase the book on Amazon.
Amy’s advice to military spouses wanting to start a business is “garner interest. Reach out on the spouse’s Facebook pages, and put a couple of feelers out there. If you get a lot of interest there, then start planning what would work for your schedule, how you would operate, how you would do things, and then you’d have to secure a place to play.”
If you are interested in learning more about Tiny Troops Soccer or if you want to start a team in your area, visit their website here. Amy and her staff give all the practice plans and informational videos you need to get started.
Amy was a speaker at our MSF Cast on Entrepreneurship. You can watch the recording here on our Youtube Channel. Make sure to subscribe to our channel for more great videos! Check out our website as well for all up-to-date information on MSF events so you don’t miss out on joining in live.