Learning the beautiful game

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Taking time for a photo at the British Soccer camp held last week in Hay River were, left to right: Alfie Sutton, an instructor from England; players Cash Rewega and Daphnee Babiuk; and Jack Duffy, an instructor from England.

British Soccer was back in Hay River for the sixth year last week.

It meant another week of instruction for young players.

The instruction was provided by representatives of U.S.-based Challenger Sports, the number one youth soccer coaching program in North America.

It was brought to town from Aug. 14 to 18 by the recreation division of the Town of Hay River.

“It gives skills of soccer to the kids,” said Dale Loutit, the recreation programmer with the town. “It gets them outside and being active in the summertime.”

This summer, there were 35-plus participants aged from three to 14 years at the camp, held on the sports field at Diamond Jenness Secondary School.

“The kids had a lot of fun,” said Loutit at the end of the week.

“The coaches were really good with the kids,” she added.

Those coaches were Alfie Sutton and Jack Duffy, both from the United Kingdom.

“It’s my first time up here,” said Sutton, who is from south of Birmingham. “It’s my first time doing these summer camps. It’s my first time in Canada.”

The instructor explained that the goal of such camps is to introduce soccer to young people.

“The more we get soccer out to these people and communities and get the kids involved, the bigger it will get,” he said.

Sutton noted the soccer talent he saw in Hay River was really good.

Some kids haven’t played as much and others are more developed in their ability, he said. “You can get a mix sometimes, but you try to get everyone to start again to teach them purely the right and the wrong way of playing soccer. We don’t want any kids to pick up bad habits, so we bring them all the way back and then we go through stages and, by the end of the week, we teach them different skills and different techniques, and they can implement them throughout the week and we can see them develop.”

Sutton said hopefully the young players can take the newly-learned skills away from the camp and use them for the rest of their lives in soccer.

Duffy, who is from Manchester, is instructing with British Soccer for the third summer, but it is his first time in Canada.

“I’ve been in California for the past two years,” he said.

During that time, he has seen the sport of soccer grow.

“I think it’s slowly getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “It covers literally most of North America.”

Duffy said he saw a range of abilities among the young soccer players in Hay River.

“The talent on show here is actually pretty good, compared to where we’ve been so far,” he said, listing Yellowknife and communities in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

Both Duffy and Sutton had good things to say about the parents who came out to support their children at the soccer camp.

“It’s really nice to see a lot of the parents getting involved,” said Sutton.

Duffy said all week long “lovely” groups of parents had been at the camp.

“We get to speak to them,” he said. “We get to learn more about Hay River and things such as that. So it’s a good experience for us as much as it is for the kids.”

The young participants in last week’s camp in Hay River seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Seven-year-old Dawson King said he enjoyed scoring goals and learning new soccer skills.

Summer Snelgrove, another seven year old, also enjoyed the camp.

“The games and learning about stuff that I didn’t know yet,” she said, adding she hopes it will make her a better soccer player.