The American Amputee Soccer Association is creating a women’s program that will launch this spring with a development camp in California, having named two staff members to lead its new program.
Emily Maxwell and Paige Palazzolo, both of whom were on the U.S. Amputee Soccer Team staff at last year’s Amputee Soccer World Cup in Turkey, will coach the women’s team.
The program will kick off with a development camp at Santa Ana (Calif.) College from May 19-21, where AASA representatives will welcome anyone with a limb difference who is interested in playing amputee soccer, regardless of experience. The camp is expected to include an introduction to the sport and to the AASA for newcomers, in addition to on-field training. Efforts to identify and develop players for the women’s team will continue after the camp, with the objective of participating in international competition later this year.
The U.S. was one of two co-ed teams to play in last year’s Amputee Soccer World Cup. As part of its efforts to expand the women’s game, the sport’s governing body — the World Amputee Football Federation— has created a working group to study the current landscape and encourage more participation. Countries such as Cameroon, Ghana, Haiti, Poland and Rwanda already have women’s teams.
Emily Maxwell is a physical therapist for the U.S. Amputee Soccer Team, responsible for assisting with player preparation and recovery in training camps and international competition. Maxwell joined the AASA after attending a 2021 training camp in Boston and staying involved with the organization’s regional team in New England, ultimately taking her current role with the full national team.
“I am passionate and excited about leading the women’s team because, despite coming to soccer in different ways, we all love it for many of the same reasons: the physical competition, the outlet it provides, and the family we join into,” said Maxwell. “I am excited to help grow both women’s access to the sport and competition at the highest level.”
Paige Palazzolo serves as Team USA’s goalkeeper coach after getting involved with the AASA in August 2020. A native of St. James, N.Y., Palazzolo played semi-professional soccer for Queensboro FC, was rostered as a reserve player for the professional club Gotham FC and is a goalkeeper for the U.S. women’s futsal team. She is a licensed master social worker in the Connetquot Central School District, on Long Island, and has been coaching soccer for the past decade in the New York City metropolitan area.
Palazzolo joined the AASA board of directors earlier this month. Now taking on added responsibilities as a coach of the women’s team, Palazzolo is setting her sights high:
“We want to be one of the countries to compete in the first-ever women’s World Cup,” she said.