Despite soccer being the most popular sport globally, its still a developing sport here in the United States.
But in recent years, with the fan base of the Seattle Sounders growing and the high ratings the U.S. gained during this years World Cup, JBLM youths were excited to learn from some of the best instructors from Europe during a soccer camp Monday through Thursday on Joint Base LewisMcChord.
Coaches and players flew from England and Ireland to teach drills and skills to children ages 4-17 during the Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp at the Child, Youth and School Services Athletic Field on Lewis Main.
Soccer is still a baby sport, and theyre not really used to the drills were bringing over, said instructor Adam Meadows. Now youre actually getting top-quality coaches from Europe.
Both Meadows and his fellow instructor, Corey ONeill, from Dublin, Ireland, came to teach soccer camps throughout the United States during their summer breaks from college, where they play and sometimes coach.
ONeill said that the American-style of the sport is still developing technically and there is sometimes a lack of aggression found in players.
We bring a higher intensity and a higher tempo, ONeill said.
The coaches maintained that higher tempo through keeping youths active with various soccer-skill challenges and games where they earned points during a daily World Cup tournament.
Throughout the week, the camp focused on individual foot skills, tactical practices, and small-sided games designed for four different age groups.
A beginners one-hour First Kicks camp is designed for children 3-4 to introduce the very basic elements of the game similar to when ONeill and Meadows first began to play.
From birth, we usually have a soccer ball, ONeill said. I played when I was 3 up until I stopped playing with a university club.
The program also offers a mini soccer camp (one and a half hours per day) for ages 4-6, intermediate half-day camps for ages 6-16 and full-day camps for ages 10-18.
Among the group, the instructors noticed kids wearing a few Sounders FC jerseys and lime-green T-shirts. Both ONeill and Meadows credit Seattle soccer stars Clint Dempsey and homegrown talents, like DeAndre Yedlin and Lamar Neagle, for inspiring kids who dream of playing in U.S. Major League Soccer or the European Premier League.
Youve got world-class players coming in and born-and-bread Americans going to Europe, Meadows said. When the kids know that Yedlin is from Seattle and plays for Seattle, they think Im from here, Im going to do that. It gives them so much confidence.
Both coaches have also been able to learn a lot, not only about American culture while leading the camps, but also about life on military installations like JBLM.
Both coaches stayed with volunteer-host families, which provided a chance for them to learn about the soccer culture in the U.S.
You get to know them after camp is over, and they get to know us, said Teri Peterson, whose family has hosted a coach for the third year in a row. They get to learn our perspective.
Challenger Sports is also hosting another British Soccer Camp Aug. 18-22 at Rainier Field on JBLM McChord Field. Registration is open for ages 3 and up online at www.challengersports.com.