Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 20, 2018

Professional soccer players teach area youth in unique camp

By Bill Gatchel | Aug 07, 2017
Photo by: Bill Gatchel Angel Mata gets ready to dribble the ball down the field in the Chicago Fire soccer camp held in Washington last week.

Forty youth soccer players, ranging in age from 2 to 18, took part in a first-of-its-kind camp in Iowa recently.

Hosted by the Chicago Fire of Major League soccer, the camp was held as a community outreach of the sports team to help get more children involved in the program.

Sam Robshaw, a coach with Chicago Fire Soccer In The Community, said it’s a way to get the team’s name out in the public, as well.

“It’s basically a way to expose the Chicago Fire to new communities that perhaps don’t know who we are,” he said.

“So hopefully in the future they will start seeing more games and hope the kids get involved more in soccer, which is the main aspect of it. It also shows what Chicago Fire does for the community.

“We run camps all around the Midwest, in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and in Iowa.

“We get to explain to everyone what the Chicago Fire is all about and hopefully leave them with lifelong memories and a greater love for the game.”

“The Chicago Fire is a very active community member, both in Chicago and across the Midwest, and our summer camps are an important part of that,” said Lee Hannant, manager of Soccer In The Community.

“This is our first year partnering with Washington Area Soccer Program (WASP), and we are delighted with the feedback we received about the experience, and we are excited to come back to Washington again next year, and hopefully create more fans of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club.”

“We hope the kids get better and better and hopefully there will be more camps here which get busier and busier each year,” Robshaw said.

“From that, you never know, maybe we can help facilitate getting local players into our Academy.”

While they were here, Robshaw and other coaches taught the campers the basics of the sport.

“The first day we taught them how to pass the ball,” he said. “The second day, the topic was dribbling. The third day we taught them how to attack and defend effectively.

“The fourth day we looked at shooting and finishing against the goalkeeper, both opposed and unopposed.”

Robshaw is impressed at how well all of the campers were receptive to what was being taught.

“I know for a fact that because we have British accents, they listen to us a little more than perhaps some of the American coaches; I’m not sure of that, but I’ve been told that,” he said with a chuckle.

“The actual knowledge of the kids back home (in the UK) play soccer (or football) [starts] from when they are babies and that would be their only sport.

“They will watch it on TV, they will play the computer games and their family would take them to games to expose them completely so they know all the players in the professional game.

“Kids in America have four or five different sports they play, so perhaps they don’t know players as much, but I’ve been impressed with the players here because they have good knowledge of the game both in Europe and in the states, as well.

“But we’re here to teach them about soccer in general and about the world of soccer.

“We’re trying to educate them a little bit in how to play the game properly but also what happens in Europe and how we do it. The kids here have been brilliant.”

Part of learning about the world of soccer is to show the difference between European soccer and American soccer.

“In the UK, at least, especially with the ladies, the skills aren’t as high,” Robshaw said. “Here in the states, the girls’ development is much, much better. Technically, attitude-wise and everything.

“Girls in the UK, they tend to play other sports. They’ll go into netball or they’ll perhaps play something else that involves what girls would do at school.

“They don’t play soccer too much, although it’s getting bigger.

“For the boys side of it, they are brought up to play it and that is their main thing. They will play it in the garden, in the park and stuff.

“The Americans are catching up in the last 20 years. They have gotten better and better and better but in the UK they are exposed to it a little bit more and are in tune to it a little bit more and their knowledge is a little bit better.

“This is my first year over here, as well, so if I come back here next year, I will see an even bigger improvement.”

The plan is to have the camp in Washington again next year.

“They want to bring it back,” Robshaw said. “This is the first year and they want it to expand and get better every year.

“I’m pretty sure it will, because 40 for a first camp is brilliant. I know WASP Coach Heather Perez has lots of kids on her team so I’m hoping next year we get 50-plus which would be wonderful.”

The camp ended Friday with a graduation day. They played games and received a special shirt and a ball along with getting their pictures taken with the coaches.

“As part of the summer camp, all campers receive a free ticket to one of our unique Graduation Day events,” Hannant said, “so I am looking forward to seeing some families from WASP come out and experience a Chicago Fire game day at Toyota Park, to see the first team play, and grow their love for soccer and the Fire.

“Thank you to WASP for hosting a Chicago Fire Summer Camp,” Hannant said, “and to everyone that attended. We will see you all again in 2018.”

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