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British invasion: Soccer camp coming to Reynoldsburg
Whether it’s dribbling, passing or shooting a soccer ball, boys and girls can learn a new skill in the British Soccer Camp the week of June 11-15 at Civic Park.
The Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation Department has teamed up to host the soccer event with Challenger Sports.
The camp is staffed by British soccer coaches flown to the United States by Challenger Sports, which operates 3,500 soccer camps throughout the United States for players ages of 3 to 19. There are 160 camps in Ohio alone.
Coaches work on foot skills, moves, juggling and other soccer skills through daily tournament play.
“Primarily we hope the kids have a great time at camp so they are enthused and keep coming back and playing soccer,” Senior Regional Director Dan Miller said.
Miller said all participants develop and learn new skills at the camp, which has been offered for the past 23 years in the United States.
“We are experienced in what makes a great camp work,” he said.
All staff members come from England, Scotland, Ireland or Wales and work as professional soccer coaches in their own communities. A majority of the coaches are 19 to 23 years in age and are in college earning a coaching degree. Others are physical education teachers who specialize in soccer, Miller said.
“They come out here for more experience and something different for their resume,” he said.
At the start of the week, kids are grouped by age, but after about 20 minutes, coaches usually know if players need to move up an age group or down an age group based on their ability, Miller said. Each player is also given a skills performance evaluation to make sure he received tailored instruction.
The coaches stay with host families for the week of camp rather than checking into a local motel, Miller said. Living with a host family for a week is exciting for the child participating in the camp and builds lifelong friendships, he said.
Miller stayed with a host family when he was coaching in Detroit. He got married in Cincinnati the following year and the host family came to his wedding and sat at the family table.
“You make these kinds of connections,” he said. “It is something extra for the family who wants to go the extra mile.”
Families who host a coach for a week receive an $80 rebate check to help cover the cost of camp.
The British Soccer Camp also provides a unique cultural experience for the players. Coaches use the tournament to teach players about life, customs and traditions of other countries. Campers make up soccer chants, wear the team colors of their country and learn about the country they represent.
“Obviously there is a huge difference in terms of the United Kingdom compared to America,” Miller said. “Whenever two cultures meet there are different ways of doing things.”
He said kids are fascinated with how they do something simple like naming food or driving on a different side of the road.
British Soccer Camp also has a relationship with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes and as part of that program, participants work on five key values at camp – respect, responsibility, integrity, leadership and sportsmanship.
Joe Medcalf has been coaching in the program for several years. He originally started in Baltimore, but was reassigned to the Cincinnati region a couple of years ago.
“The camp has a really good structure,” he said. “Every single day we give (players) a different skill to work on.”
Participants also benefit from the coaches’ love for the game. Young people in the United Kingdom get involved with the game of soccer early on in life.
“Their enthusiasm really passes on to the kids for the game in general,” Medcalf said. “We help them get excited about soccer and practice.”
The cost for the soccer camp ranges from $75 for the youngest players to $166 for a full day of soccer camp. Each camper receives a soccer camp T-shirt, a soccer ball and a soccer poster.
For more information about the camp, go to www.challengersports.com.
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