Soccer camp gives players a boost

Soccer camp gives players a boost
Saibo Talic, left, head coach of the European Football School in North Vancouver, was in 100 Mile House, April 26-28. He conducted an intensive soccer camp, which attract for local youth and players from Quesnel in the north to Kamloops in the south.

Short season delays player skill development

Arlene Jongbloets, Free Press

European Football School (EFS) head coach Saibo Talic and technical skills coach Igor Matic were in 100 Mile House, April 26-28, conducting a spring soccer camp for 62 youth from the 100 Mile House & District Soccer Association (OHMSA), Williams Lake, Quesnel and Kamloops.

EFS has a reputation as a soccer school of excellence and also drew a good local response last year when a similar camp was held.

The recent camp included players from eight to 17 years and it also included coaching clinics. Talic says he put the focus of the camp on skill and imagination development, along with having fun. He adds it was successful.

“We want them to enjoy soccer and to be unpredictable and give them the ability to master the ball. We worked on passing, dribbling, shooting and basic tactical skills.

“I was really, really pleased with the desire, passion and hard work of the players.”

He says players in the South Cariboo don’t get a sufficient amount of ball contact during their short, weather-constrained season and this is what stands out as lacking in their development as soccer players. Talic notes he was also very pleased with the volunteer coaches and board members from OMHSA who helped, and with the good organization of the camp.

The camp was a timely event for the OMHSA, which starts its season May 1 with a two-day coaching clinic. The Under 14 division is first on the field to play on the evening of May 3, and U-5 through U12 play May 4. On May 6, the U16/U18 division takes over the field.

The U5 is the youngest division, with players as young as three eligible to register, providing they turn four by Dec. 31.

The focus for them is fun and getting used to the ball, association president Jennifer Appleby says, adding they don’t play actual games during that introductory year.

The OMHSA has slightly less that 400 registered players this year, which Appleby says is down approximately 35 from last year. The total number of teams remains about the same at 25 or 26.

The biggest change for the association this year is gender mixing of U8, U10 and U12 teams, due to a shortage of players for sufficient numbers of all-girl and all-boy teams, Appleby explains.

“We don’t normally do it. We like to split them up because it’s good for their development. That way they’re not dealing with boys and girls and the social stuff that goes on between them.”

The OMHSA also supports rep teams that play in the Cariboo Youth Soccer League, which also includes Williams Lake, Quesnel and Prince George. They have a home game day on June 16 at the 100 Mile Soccer Park, and a weekend play day during the season in each of the other three communities.

The fields at 100 Mile Soccer Park are good to go, Appleby notes, apart from the calling cards left by geese, which have been enjoying the new green grass and the nearby creek.

“It disappears pretty quickly though. We come down, and the geese don’t want to be there any more.”

The soccer club saw strong interest in the referee program this year, with 42 youth trained and available for officiating. Refs must be a minimum of 12 years old.

The soccer season is split in two, with the first segment ending on June 22. It picks up again in September and finishes at the end of the month.

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