English soccer comes to Craig

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In his first day as an instructor for the Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp it didn't take Jason Welch long to get a reminder that he wasn't in England anymore.

"I kept saying futbol," he said. "The kids kept reminding me that they call it soccer."

Welch and Michael "Willow" Williams are in Craig this week putting on a soccer camp for the youth soccer program. They are part of the CSBSC, based out of Kansas City, Kans., which imports British soccer players to the U.S. to put on clinics and coach.

In Craig the camp is held for two age groups, with the younger campers in the morning and the older in the afternoon.

While this week is Welch's first, Williams has been with the program for nine months. He said during his experience in the States he has learned some distinct cultural differences between the two sports.

"In Britain soccer is our number one sport and everybody knows at an early age how to do it," he said. "Here everybody plays three or four sports. I had a girl today who came from swimming, had soccer camp and then was going to basketball. For the most part we just play soccer in England."

But having athletes who compete in multiple sports and who may not view soccer as a top priority is an advantage for the British coaches.

"These kids come to the camps wanting to learn," Welch said. "In England, at a young age they already belong to clubs and you can't have a camp because they believe they already know everything."

There were 35 athletes in the first two days of the camp trying to learn all they can. The two counselors said that the skills they teach begin with the basics and become more complex as the week goes on.

The Craig Youth Soccer Association funded the camp for a second year with the help of other local organizations. The association also arranges host families for the counselors, "The communities make these camps possible," Williams said. "The Craig soccer family has been great to us so far."

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