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British Soccer Camp A soccer camp ‘friendly’ on JBLM

Young players learn from top instructors

Northwest Guardian

Published: 11:00PM July 24th, 2014
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Dean Siemon/Northwest Guardian

Mikel Walters participates in a dribbling drill as part of the Challenger British Soccer Camp July 16 at the CYSS Athletic Field on JBLM Lewis Main.

Despite soccer being the most popular sport globally, it’s 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 year’s 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 they’re not really used to the drills we’re bringing over,” said instructor Adam Meadows. “Now you’re actually getting top-quality coaches from Europe.”

Both Meadows and his fellow instructor, Corey O’Neill, from Dublin, Ireland, came to teach soccer camps throughout the United States during their summer breaks from college, where they play and sometimes coach.

O’Neill 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,” O’Neill 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 O’Neill and Meadows first began to play.

“From birth, we usually have a soccer ball,” O’Neill 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 O’Neill 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.

“You’ve 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 ‘I’m from here, I’m 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.

Dean Siemon: dean.siemon@nwguardian.com @deansiemon