Youth soccer camp teaches skills, teamwork

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Dribbling, passing and receiving were just a few of the many soccer skills kids learned at the UK International soccer camp this week at the YMCA of Clanton.

Taught by two international coaches from Sweden, the five-day camp included children ages 4-12, who not only learned basic soccer techniques, but also learned about the value of teamwork and diversity.

Coach Louis Danha of Sweden travels around the United States coaching soccer camps with the UK International organization, and he said the 20 kids in attendance at the Clanton camp were some of the most attentive he has seen.

“[The kids] have been really interested the whole time,” Danha said. “It’s fun to come to the field when you have players who listen.”

Along with scrimmages, games and drills, each day of the camp had a theme: teamwork, behavior, focus and preparation were some of the daily messages the coaches spoke to the participants about.

Because of the wide range of ages involved, campers had the option of a half-day or full-day camp.

“Some of the kids were still out here playing soccer even after the full eight hours of camp,” Danha said. “They just love it.”

According to Danha, the UK International program sets out to mold the kids’ character as much as their athleticism.

“We use soccer as a tool to prepare people for life on and off the field,” Danha said.

Although the kids were on the soccer field for a majority of the week, Danha said he thought it was still important to give them homework.

“I told each of them to research a soccer player from a different country to learn about their culture and how the player’s life is different from their own,” Danha said. “When they see coaches who aren’t from Clanton or from nearby, it gives them something interesting or different. Soccer is an international sport. It brings people together.”

The coaches weren’t the only ones enthused about being a part of such a unique camp.

“The scrimmage was my favorite part because we got to go against each other,” 12-year-old Jose Flores said.

“I learned how to control the ball,” 6-year-old Emma Elmore said. “It’s important because during the game, you can take control and score.”

I liked the dribbling,” 10-year-old Paul Romero said. “You can dribble the ball all the way to the goal and score a point.”

YMCA Director Angie Wright said the soccer camp was made possible through the UK International’s partnership with the American Youth Soccer Organization, and that there will be more soccer camps offered at YMCA in the near future.

“We’ll have some camps this fall and next spring, and definitely next summer again,” Wright said. “We’ll also have our youth soccer program in the fall through the AYSO.”

Registration for the YMCA of Clanton’s youth soccer program will begin in July. The season will run from the end of August through October.

Coach Louis Danha announces the winning team after a scrimmage.

Coach Louis Danha announces the winning team after a scrimmage.

Weston Corley, 5, takes part in a drill at soccer camp.

Weston Corley, 5, takes part in a drill at soccer camp.

 

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