ROCKWALL, TX (July 21, 2014) Many children participate in YMCA camps and sports throughout the summer in hopes of learning something new and honing their skills. But it’s not every day they get to work with coaches from all the way across the Atlantic Ocean.
The JER Chilton YMCA recently hosted a British Soccer camp through a company called Challenger Sports. Registration is currently underway for an encore session of British Soccer camp, scheduled for July 28 through August 1.
Challenger employs 1,200 British, 100 Brazilian and 50 U.S.coaches who travel across America and Canada teaching kids about soccer. According to their website, it is now the most popular soccer camp in the country.
Rhys Surringer, Craig Thompson, Amanda Kelly, and Alex Gibson were the four coaches who visited Rockwall last week.
“Every year it is getting bigger and bigger,” Thompson said.
Surringer said the YMCA got in touch with Challenger Sports several years ago and now invites the camp back annually.
“Every week we are in a different town,” Thompson said. “It’s great fun for us to get to come to different places in America, especially when they have got great facilities like this one.”
“It’s very cool, we get to travel a lot,” Surringer said.
The coaches divided campers up into four separate age categories for the week, spanning ages 3-18 years old. They cover specific techniques from Challenger Sports’ 1,000 touches curriculum. According to Challenger’s website, the curriculum will “provide high levels of repetition of the most valuable and frequently used soccer skills and as the title suggests, it will give each player over 1,000 points of contact with the ball in each three hour daily camp.”
The camp runs Monday-Friday, for three hours in the morning with younger kids and three hours in the evening with more skilled older players.
Thompson said the most rewarding part is “seeing the kids enjoy themselves.”
“Hopefully if we do a good job, they will learn something about soccer by the end of the week,” Thompson said. “It’s nice to see the impression you’ve left on the kids.”
Thompson said he has worked with the camps for three years, and that many of his fellow coaches have been involved for even longer. Challenger Sports divides up the country into 10 different regions and sends coaches traveling throughout a particular region for the summer. As a result, Thompson has had the chance to visit 23 states. He said Surringer has seen more than 40.
Thompson said this was his first time in Texas, and although New York City was his favorite U.S. destination so far, Texas was his favorite state.
Thompson said that coaches for the Challenger Sports camp program are typically recruited from top-notch in college players or former professional soccer players. The recruits go through an interview process, then a training camp where coaches are assessed based on their abilities and qualifications. While the college students return to school at the end of the summer, graduates can continue to coach club soccer during the fall and spring months. Thompson graduated last year, so he has plans to continue coaching throughout the fall. Surringer does as well.
Thompson said what he has seen from his experience in the program over the past three years is increasing interest in soccer from Americans.
“Soccer is getting bigger inAmerica,” Thompson said. “Each year more coaches have to come out because the camps are growing. Kids are starting to choose soccer over some of the other sports you guys traditionally have. That’s good from and English point of view, because we love soccer so much.”
By Julie Anne White, Blue Ribbon News staff writer and reporter.
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