British soccer camp teaches the world’s game

Campers Keegan Ensign (left) and Carson Helminski (right) participate in open play at the camp. (Kyle Kotecki/For the News Advocate)

Campers Keegan Ensign (left) and Carson Helminski (right) participate in open play at the camp. (Kyle Kotecki/For the News Advocate)


For the News Advocate

MANISTEE — The Manistee Recreation Association hosted the British Soccer Camp at Manistee High School this week, giving children an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of soccer in a fun way through half-day camps.

The Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp takes place throughout the United States. Coaches from Great Britain travel from state to state teaching countless youths the beautiful game.

“The main idea is to teach the kids the fundamentals of soccer — from passing, shooting, dribbling,” said Jordan Parker, a coach with Challenger Sports. “We just want the kids to have a really great experience.

“Some have never played soccer before, so we want to encourage the game as much as we can,” Parker continued. “We do it by trying to play fun games with them, where they don’t realize at the same time they’re learning how to kick a ball, how to dribble a ball.”

There were over thirty participants this year, with a morning session for younger kids and an afternoon session for older players.

“This year we’re down just a little bit (in participation),” said MRA executive director Kenny Kott. “But the overall numbers for the past few years have been pretty steady.”

For many of the participants, the camp served as their first time playing soccer. Challenger Sports has developed an innovative approach to coaching youth soccer, so the camp serves as a fantastic introduction to the game.

“This week went great,” Parker said. “We had a lot of kids that hadn’t played soccer before. It’s always good for myself and my colleague to teach these new kids how to kick a ball, how to strike a ball. It’s great meeting new faces.”

The MRA has been hosting the British Soccer Camp for over a decade.

“We’ve been doing this camp for a long, long time,” Kott said. “Long before I’ve been here.”

Though developing soccer skills was obviously the focus of the camp, an emphasis was also placed on good sportsmanship, making friends and learning about other cultures. There was a flag-making competition Friday, with recognition being given to the child who made the largest, smallest and most creative flag.

At the end of the camp, children received a certificate and were given the opportunity to have their pictures taken with, and receive autographs from, the coaches.

“It’s been a really fantastic week,” Parker said. “Great kids. Good attitude. The weather stayed great for us. Even though it gets a bit hot, the kids can get tired sometimes, but they were fantastic, which really helps us do our job.”

There were high-fives and grins aplenty on the pitch, which would lead one to believe the British Soccer Camp was a tremendous success.

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