The Brookings-Harbor Soccer League teamed up with Challenger Sports, a UK-based soccer instruction company to host a “British Soccer Camp” at Brookings-Harbor High school this past week from July 17th to July 21st.
Instruction was provided by a trio of coaches, all of whom were flown in from the United Kingdom. The group is three of 1,500 other international coaches flown in and hosting camps across the United States and Canada.
Challenger coach John Byrne explained that Brookings was the sixth stop of their 10-leg tour, which included stops in Ione, Sebastopol, Napa, Arcata and Sonoma, California. At each stop, the coaches typically stay with a host family.
“All my five previous stops have been in California, so it’s been much sunnier there,” Byrne said of his experience in Brookings. “It’s been cooler, and especially the one thing about Brookings is the fog — the morning fog coming across. It’s overcast and dry and it’s a fog — a dense fog in some places — in the morning as we’re driving out. It’s been good, it’s been different but it’s been good.”
Fellow coach Jordan Dixon remarked that Brookings was a nice change of pace from her hometown of Freckleton in England.
“It’s a lot more quieter here. It’s nice to sometimes to get out of the main downtown area and come to somewhere more chilled,” said coach Jordan Dixon, a Blackpool native.
Dixon explained that the coaches split the the children up into smaller groups for each coach, and reconvene at the end of the day for a scrimmage.
“We try and focus on developing their skills, so instead of inner scrimmage, instead of just trying to run past the player, we try and give them skills they can use skills to get past defenders,” Dixon said. “We try and focus on that. They’re developing good. They’re awesome players. If they practice they can make it.”
Although the popularity of soccer pales in comparison to its popularity across the pond (where it’s known as football), Byrne noted that the kids at camp did not give that impression.
“They’re all really enthusiastic; they all enjoy it. They don’t treat it as if it’s a sport that they don’t want to do or that their parents made them sign up,” Byrne said. “They all love playing the sport, and they all fairly enjoy it each time. There’s been rare occasions they all really enjoy it. It’s so neat seeing that it’s what they enjoy doing, compared to like football or basketball.”
Both coaches noted that while on paper their travel itinerary might appear grueling and extensive, the time often passes quickly thanks to the kids.
“Eight weeks --— on paper it seems so long, but the time has flown by especially each day. The kids are all enthusiastic. They all want to play, especially when we’re doing drills the kids they enjoy, we enjoy it too. The day goes fast. the days fly by,” Byrne said. “Since I’ve arrived here, time has gone so fast, it’s been crazy. The kids especially they keep you going. It’s been nice and fun and enjoyable.”
Jordan explained that the process never gets repetitive either, as each camp features a new set of children to nurture and develop.
“I think everytime you go to a new camp, you get another burst of motivation because they’re new kids and you get to know the kids, and then sort of see how they develop over the week, you get enjoyment out of that,” Jordan said.