By Woodard, Dale on July 14, 2017.
Local soccer players have been privy to some professional pointers this week.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC Camp hit the pitch for a pair of sessions Thursday afternoon at the Servus Sports Centre, the first in the morning for youths U7 to U12 and the second in the afternoon for the U13 to U16 athletes, giving potential future MLS players the chance to rub elbows with the pros they aspire to be.
However, over the course of the week, a few question-and-answer sessions actually turned the students into the teachers, a fact that wasn’t lost on the Whitecaps players and coaches alike.
These southern Alberta soccer players know their Whitecaps trivia.
“The questions they’ve been asking have been fantastic about the game,” said Brett Adams, associate head coach of the Academy Across Canada. “One of the things we do in the two different camps we have (is) we ask them to come back with facts about the club and they have knocked our socks off with the facts, some facts that we didn’t know and we’re embarassed about it, to be honest. But some amazing facts and we’re talking five, six and seven-year-olds coming back with these amazing (facts). It’s been so humbling.”
The Whitecaps FC Camp, which started Monday and wraps up today, has been divided into a skills and prospects session.
“The skills camp is basically a camp that’s geared toward kids that want to have fun, an introduction to soccer,” said Adams. “The second part of the camp is a prospect element where the more intentional gets coached. We’re bringing the professional experience to Lethbridge and we’re bringing highly-qualified skilled, Vancouver Whitecaps staff members.”
Among the local athletes taking advantage of the week-long camp is 15-year-old Lethbridge Football Club member Jacob Mattatall.
“It’s been awesome,” he said. “It’s not every day you get to train with players and coaches like this at a prestige level. It’s just something I’ve always dreamed of. I’m hoping to take it to the next level eventually, whether that be college or even playing for a team like this.
“I pay as close attention as possible and just soak in everything they’re saying because obviously they’re at a higher level than we are. It’s just really interesting to try and get to that level.”
The Whitecaps FC Camp focuses on the technical side of the game, said Adams.
“We want players to be comfortable on the ball and be creative, lots of touches and creative thinkers that can find spaces and all of those types of things. So a lot our sessions are based around creativity and being comfortable with the ball.”
“A lot of it mind-based,” added Mattatall. “There’s a big difference between being a very good player with your feet or being a very good player in your head because playing soccer is all about seeing the field and that’s what they’re getting at. Playing these quick passes that makes space. It’s a lot of technical things that really help your game and your brain when you’re seeing the field.”
This week is the first time the Whitecaps have brought their camp to Lethbridge and the past week has made a good impression the club.
“We’re really excited,” said Adams. “We’re hoping at some point to bring bring a full-time member of the Whitecaps staff to the Alberta area and we’re really excited about Lethbridge in particular, simply because you put a camp on, 167 kids, it shows you they want the professional experience. It’s exciting times.”
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