Soccer players from U.K. lead camp

Elliott Seyler/Chieftain One player tries to tag another's soccer ball with his “web” in a game of “Spiderman.”

ENTERPRISE — An international soccer camp came to Wallowa County. Last week, from July 27 – 31, U.K. International Soccer taught soccer (or football, as it’s called in the U.K.) fundamentals to local children. With a team of coaches hailing from England and Scotland, they focused on a different basic skill each day.

Friday’s fundamental was turning. Turning in soccer is more complicated than turning on the sidewalk, as one must control both oneself and the ball. This can be done through dribbling, drags, and other means. To teach each skill to the kids, the coaches used a series of related games and challenges, with a test at the end of each day. For Friday’s lesson, turning, the kids played games like “Spiderman” and “Gladiator,” as well as doing slaloms and other drills.

“Spiderman” is very much like freeze tag with soccer balls. A small handful of players are designated “spidermen” and each given a jersey as their “web.” The remaining players each have a soccer ball, and must dribble the ball around the field of play, avoiding the “spidermen.” If a “web” touches their ball, that player is out, and must stand where they are, holding their ball over their head, until another player dribbles a soccer ball through their legs. “Gladiator” is a simpler game, and fits its name quite well. Each player has a soccer ball, and players are pushed out of the game by kicking their soccer ball out of the field of play. The last player standing wins.

The kids were broken into groups by age, four groups of differently colored jerseys flitting about Jensen Ball Fields as they learned and played. They seemed to enjoy the games, dodging and weaving about the fields in their competitions. It was hot, though, and that heat wore heavily on them. Luckily the coaches had promised a celebratory water gun fight for the end of their last day.

The coaches who teach this camp travel across the country every week. Spending a week in a given town, they teach their skills and coach their games until the weekend. Friday evening, they find out their next destination, and they spend the weekend traveling and getting set up in another town — or even another state. It’s a traveling summer for these English and Scottish soccer coaches for sure, and doubtless an exciting one as well. Regardless of where their travels take them next, the kids of Wallowa County have certainly gained from their visit.

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