Camps bring soccer to local youths
By John Joyce
Published in News on June 22, 2014 1:50 AM
The 2014 FIFA World Cup is under way in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
As fans the world over pull on their favorite player's jersey, wrap themselves in their nation's flag and hope against hope their team at least makes it out of the first group, a team of international footballers is making its way to Wayne County.
Challenger Sports British Soccer Camps 2014 and the Goldsboro Family Y, along with Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and the town of Mount Olive, have all teamed up to bring the world's biggest sport to local children who want to play.
The youth soccer camp will be held at the Goldsboro Family Y June 23-27, and kicks off today with a free session open to the community.
Dates are also set in July for weeklong camps to be held both in Mount Olive (July 7-11) and at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base (July14-18).
Organizers expect a larger draw this year since the camp is being held during the World Cup.
"The kids have so much fun," said Marc Langston, Goldsboro Family Y sports director.
He said the skills drills and scrimmages are designed to take children of all ages and experience levels to the next phase of their game.
British Soccer Camps Regional Director Mel Sapia, who is based out of Charlotte, said the program has been around for a while and matches seasoned soccer coaches from the United Kingdom and around the world with eager young students.
Children ages 3 to 16 can participate in sessions divided by age and skill level, starting with First Kicks for the tykes all the way up to Advanced Player for 10- to 16-year-olds.
Sapia said the certified instructors are generally college students, some of whom return to the event annually, and stay with host families as if they were foreign exchange students. Many end up coming back later in the year on their own time, he said.
"They'll come back on weeks off from university and stay a week. Or they may travel and see other parts of the states and see what the fields are like in other areas," he said.
What's exceptional about the camp during World Cup years is that it takes up the theme of international competition.
"The kids will break up into teams and select a country," Sapia said.
While learning the skills required to play the sport, the young players are also encouraged to pick up a bit of international culture.
Their homework is to learn about the country their team is assigned, Sapia said.
"It's not the biggest sport in America, so we try to engage all the kids to watch it on TV, and we do a world cup scrimmage at the end of every day," he said.
Registration is required and is currently ongoing, but space is limited.
Call the Goldsboro Family Y at 919-778-8557, or register online at www. challengersports.com.