Archive for Thursday, July 26, 2012

British Soccer Camp returns to Tonganoxie

Aiden Van Middlesworth, left, and Michael Irwin battle for a ball Thursday at the Challenger British Soccer Camp at Chieftain Park.

Aiden Van Middlesworth, left, and Michael Irwin battle for a ball Thursday at the Challenger British Soccer Camp at Chieftain Park.

July 26, 2012

Several youth soccer players in Tonganoxie have spent the week adding some international flavor to their game.

The Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp has returned to town for its third consecutive year. Twenty kids have worked with international coaches at Chieftain Park in an attempt to hone their skills and master the game's basic fundamentals.

"They've got camps in every single state in America, as well as Canada," coach Jake Jones said. "We do team camps as well, but this is more a recreational camp. The emphasis on these camps is enjoyment and fun, as well as learning the skills."

Jones, a native of Manchester, England, traveled to the United States to spend 10 weeks coaching kids across the Midwest. He's currently in his eighth week and has already spent time in Kansas, Iowa and Missouri.

Many Challenger coaches play professionally in their home countries and will return before their seasons begin in mid-September.

The Tonganoxie camp has been broken into two sessions: a morning session for kids ages 5-8 and an evening session for ages 9-14. There are 12 kids in the morning session and eight in the evening.

"Because of the age group with the younger ones, we've just been working on basics," Jones said. "We're getting them used to using the soccer ball and using different parts of their foot. We've pushed (the older kids) a little bit more. We've done similar skills, but more advanced ways of using them."

Campers have met every day this week since Monday. After working on skill-specific drills, such as ball handling, dribbling, passing and shooting, they wrap up each session with a scrimmage. Players are broken into teams and represent different countries, such as England and France.

Camp activities will conclude Friday. While Jones admitted this year's turnout is lower than Tonganoxie camps have produced in recent years, he said the Tonganoxie Recreation Commission has already signed on with Challenger for next summer.

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