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Soccer – or football, as it’s known in the rest of the world – is deadly serious business in the United Kingdom.
British soccer coaches, however, know they need to sprinkle in a lot of fun to generate excitement among children in the United States.
Statesboro-Bulloch Parks & Recreation and Challenger Sports – the largest soccer camp operator in the country – brought its British Soccer Camp to Mill Creek Park this past week where four coaches from the U.K. and one from Brazil offered their expertise and creative teaching techniques to about 70 children.
A separate skill – passing, dribbling, shooting, tackling and heading – is featured each day of camp. Teaching the five fundamentals of soccer is serious for the coaches but fun for the players, with each skill wrapped up into games that keep the kids begging for more – so much that coaches had to enforce breaks.
There’s more. “We don’t just promote soccer,” said coach Adam Jackson of Manchester, England. “We promote respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, leadership, and integrity. So it’s like cross-curricular learning.”
Additional fun activities included wearing wacky uniforms, sharing facts about England, and a water fight to close out camp.
Coaches were impressed by the park's facilities, the attitudes of the campers and especially by the level of interest in women’s soccer in the U.S.
Coach Tracy Atkins of London, England has experience playing women’s soccer on the semi-professional level.
“The game in England is portrayed as a man’s sport. The way people see soccer here is different. In the U.K., we have to struggle to find girls (to play). Here, girls come and they love it!”
Just what do the British coaches bring to America?
“The coaches who want to come over here want a career in coaching, so what you’re bringing over is a more professional outlook on soccer and a more in-depth knowledge of the sport.” said Jack Sheeran of Bradford in Yorkshire, England.
“And, as well, the accent helps – if I were the exact same person with an American accent, I doubt I’d get as much work. The accent definitely helps!”