British soccer invasion at JBLM
August 15, 2011
Every summer, laughter and cheers of children participating in sports camps can be heard as they learn new skills and have fun taking part in an organized sport with their friends. But one camp, that took place Aug. 8 at Rainier Park on McChord Air Force base, echoed with the sounds of British accents.
The weeklong Challenger Sports-British Soccer Camp 2011, which was sponsored by the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Child, Youth and Schools Services program, brought coaches from the United Kingdom. The coaches are students and soccer players from around the UK who spend their own money to travel to these camps and get to experience a change in lifestyle while teaching youngsters.
Coaches taught 40 kids and teens new to the sport, and also focused on expanding skills for some of the more experienced players.
“We offer this camp for the younger ones to learn fundamentals and the older ones more advanced skills,” said Cynthia Williams-Patnoe, Director of CYSS Sports and Fitness. “It is a learning experience for all, with fun competitions and scrimmages.”
During the camp, kids from the age of 3 to 16 came out and learned valuable skills, not only soccer skills, but also skills to carry on through life.
“We use the Challenge Sports way of teaching. It concentrates on five themes that aims to teach the kids lessons that can be used in soccer and in life,” said Alexander Donaldson, a coach and Sports Science student at the University of Worcester, England. “Our teaching is based on sportsmanship, integrity, leadership, responsibility, and respect. At the end of each game the coaches speak about the five life skills.”
Beyond learning new skills, the kids also had the opportunity to spend time with young people from a different place and culture.
“My daughter is half Australian so I thought it would be good for her to be around accents that she would recognize. This was her first camp and I had heard so many good things about it,” said Army Sgt. Angela Shepard, linguist, 341st Military Intelligence battalion. “I think it’s important for kids to be around other cultures. This is a fantastic camp.”
But for the coaches traveling to the U.S., they spend their summer to enjoying American culture and get an idea of what it is like to live in a military family.
“I am passionate about seeing kids progress, so watching them enjoy themselves and pick up some new skills inspires me. I have never been to America before this year, so I get to see things I would never get to see in England, earn a bit of money and the families that host us are fantastic,” said Donaldson. “Military families are similar to regular families. Generally the kids are better behaved and the parents tend to be more involved and come to watch their kids at the camp or help out. But I have noticed that the kids sometimes tend to struggle with their dads’ being away in the Middle East.”
As the week winds down, and all the fun and memories are made, CYSS sports director believes that all those who attended can be considered winners.
“I hope that the coaches get a positive taste of our culture in the United States. Ultimately, this offers an opportunity for kids to get out of the house, do some type of planned sporting activity that is fun and educational, rather than sitting in the house watching television or playing video games,” said Williams-Patnoe.