In two weeks, soccer players from Craig will have an opportunity to train with professional English soccer coaches.
The Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp will open June 3 and run all that week, offering soccer players from ages 6 to 18 the opportunity to develop, improve and hone soccer skills and gamesmanship. The Craig Youth Soccer Association is bringing the camp to the area and the event is open to any youth players who wish to participate. As part of the program, various households involved with Craig Youth Soccer have hosted one of the camp's instructors, Damian Ives, since April. Ives has been working with the CYSA teams this season.
This is the first time the Challenger Sports camp has been brought to Craig.
"We've had the (Major League Soccer) camps here the last several years, but the turnout was going down and the MLS camp kept getting more and more expensive," CYSA President Rich Thompson said.
This camp will be hosted before the CYSA teams head to tournaments, an advantage the MLS camps could not offer.
"The MLS camps would only come in August, and that meant we didn't have anything before all the tournaments and their dates usually conflicted with the city's Parks and Rec soccer league or the early school (soccer) season," Thompson said. "Now the kids will have the skills and training from this camp to use in the tournaments, which should be a big advantage."
Ives will be one of two coaches running the camp in Craig. The second instructor will be a Challenger Sports instructor from England, but who has not been assigned yet, Ives said.
"We'll cover all the range of skills passing, heading, dribbling, shooting and the like," he said. "With the younger kids, the drills are a little more fun, and we work mostly on just the skills. For the older kids, we'll be working on the more technical and tactical sides of soccer and look at game strategies."
Ives plays for the semi-pro club Pennistone, located in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, outside of Leeds in northern England. The team plays games on Saturdays, and Ives works full time as a professional soccer instructor and trainer.
"The drills will improve a player's individual and team skills," Ives said. "A good part of each half day we will work on games skills, and then we finish every day with a World Cup scrimmages where the kids just get to play some actual games."
If this program proves successful, the camp could grow to have teams training together, as opposed to
all the youth players registering
and training individually which doesn't guarantee all of a team gets the experience, Thompson said.