The World Cup comes to Craig

Challenger Sports British soccer camp uses imported talent to train youths

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Daniel Anderson and David Dunn may hail from the opposite side of the globe -- Daniel is from Birmingham, England and David is from Derry, Ireland -- but the two have been traveling the United States this summer to show children and coaches what soccer is all about.

"We really provide a service to kids who have never played soccer before and help those who have develop as players," Dunn said.

Challenger Sports based out of Kansas City, Mo., has been putting on British soccer camps since 1997. The company brings in coaches from the United Kingdom to the U.S. in hopes of showing kids the origins of the game and sharpening their skills while having fun.

"We teach them better soccer skills," Dunn said. "We are qualified coaches who have experience playing soccer."

While drills are part of the 29 campers daily regimen, both coaches also incorporate challenges and games.

"If it's not fun, they're not going to want to do it," Dunn said. "If it is fun, they'll want to do it over and over again. So that means they'll practice."

This is Dunn's fifth camp of the summer, and Anderson is coaching his second. Along with learning the skills of soccer the participants are also learning about different cultures. Each player picks a team's country and learns something about it for every day.

"Soccer is a worldwide sport," Anderson said. And that recognition is something that both Dunn and Anderson wanted to make a point of to the players.

The campers are divided into two groups -- one group with Anderson and the other with Dunn. They are also divided into four teams -- Mexico, Brazil, Ireland and England -- and will play a World Cup tournament today.

With the recent completion of the FIFA World Cup tournament in Germany, many of the participants are more enthusiastic about soccer this summer.

"The last time I was in the U.S., there were no tournaments on (TV), but this summer the kids seem more interested," Dunn said.

A learning experience

Alyssa Jolley, 10, and her mom, Chris Jolley, who recently moved here from Idaho, were excited to learn about the opportunities that the Craig Parks and Recreation Department had to offer.

"We saw it down at Parks and Rec, and Alyssa wanted to do it, so it was her birthday present," said Chris. "The coaches have done a good job. They are teaching the kids discipline in sports, and I've noticed a difference in Alyssa already."

Karen Boltson is participating in her second camp and is excited about what she's learned so far.

"This year, I've learned a lot more tricks," she said.

Lauren Samuelson is a first time camper who is busy learning the ins and outs of soccer.

"We've learned to use the inside of our foot, passing and turns," Samuelson said.

Two different worlds

For Dunn and Anderson, the experience of teaching the camps has been rewarding, and they hope to see the kids continue to develop their games. One big difference that Dunn and Anderson noted was the access to soccer fields across the U.S.

"There aren't places like this back in England where anyone can just come down and play soccer, or baseball," Anderson said. "You have to pay to use the fields in some places."

Dunn agreed. "The facilities here are amazing compared to what we have back home."

Melanie McDaniels can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or mmcdaniels@craigdailypress.com.

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