GARNER — Kids in Scotland grow up with soccer as part of their daily life. It’s on TV. They’re playing it in schoolyards and backyards and side yards. And maybe even Scotland Yard!|GARNER — Kids in Scotland grow up with soccer as part of their daily life.
It’s on TV. They’re playing it in schoolyards and backyards and side yards. And maybe even Scotland Yard!
So they become immersed in the game, according to Allan Spalding. He’s hoping to spread great enthusiasm for the game, and help kids improve their skills, at a series of soccer camps in North Iowa.
The first session was Monday in Garner, where the interest seems to be great. About 20 youngsters were expected. About 40 showed up. “It was a nice problem to have,’’ Spalding said. He split the 40 into two groups of 20 and then had them play three-on-three and four-on-four so he could assess their skill levels.
“Then I can structure the practices from there,” said Spalding, who will be working with kids in the North Iowa Soccer Club this spring, coaching youngsters from about 4 to 17 years old.
He’s staying with Scott and Kris Wood in Garner and will be coaching soccer in Garner on Monday evenings. The schedule beginning next week will also have him in Mason City on Tuesday evenings, Clear Lake on Thursday evening and Charles City on Friday evenings, he said.
Spalding said he drove through Iowa a lot last summer, traveling all over the Midwest to put on soccer camps. He said he’s enjoying his time in the Hawkeye state so far, but finding it “a lot colder than Scotland, which I wasn’t expecting.” It was 60-65 degrees March 22 when he left his homeland.
He said youngsters in Scotland commonly start playing soccer when they’re 3 or 4 years old. It’s practically the only game going, he said. “You guys have baseball, basketball, football, hockey. We don’t really have that broad a range of sports. Kids get into soccer pretty much as the only sport. It’s part of daily society, really.”
Spalding brings tremendous knowledge of the game, said Charlie Ramsay, president of the North Iowa Soccer Club. He brings great credibility and has a wealth of soccer knowledge to share not just with local players, but with volunteer coaches in the area, Ramsay said.
“It’s exciting for the kids to learn from him. And they like his accent.”
About 300 youngsters participate in club activities per year, Ramsay said. Besides the clinics, there are leagues in the spring and fall.
Spalding said there really aren’t many differences in skill levels between American and Scottish youngsters who are just starting out. “I do see a difference in understanding of the game. That’s just due to exposure. Kids in Scotland see a lot more on TV.
“Terminology is another thing. You guys have a different way of talking about things than I do. It causes a few delays, but … it’s all in good fun.”
He would like to see more American youngsters stick with soccer in their teenage years. It’s very popular for kids to play until they’re 14 or 15, but then they often gravitate to other sports. “I’d like to see that change.”
He’s hoping the North Iowa soccer camps will help.
The programs are run by Challenger Sports, which is based near Kansas City, MO.
For more information on Challenger Sports, call Max Cookson, regional director, at 888-878-2167 ext 241 or send an e-mail to him at email@example.com.
The camps will take place in Clear Lake for 5 days week beginning July 18.
BRITISH SOCCER CAMPS
First Kicks — 3- to 5-year-olds, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Mini Soccer — 4- to 6-year-olds, from 10:30 a.m. to noon or from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Half Day — 6- to 14-year-olds, from 9 a.m. to noon or from 5 to 8 p.m.
To sign-up, click here.
TERTRA BRAZILIAN SOCCER CAMP
Half Day — 11- to 18-year-olds, from 9 a.m. to noon or from 5 to 8 p.m.
To sign-up, click here.
Mohawk Soccer Clinic April 16
The Mohawk Soccer Clinic will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at the Mason City High School soccer field.
The clinic is open to boys and girls from kindergarten to fourth grade. The cost is $12.
MCHS boys soccer coaches Daniel Coimbra and Joseph Squires, along with members of the high school boys soccer team will teach dribbling, passing and goalkeeping skills. Each child will receive a free T-shirt. For more information, call Cathy Kaune at 641 424-6448.