Coach Jonathan Twigg of England gives Kiera Mallas a high-five during  Challenger Sports’ British soccer camp that Nansemond-Suffolk Academy hosted last year. Suffolk Parks and Recreation is hosting the camp next week at Bennett's Creek Park.
Coach Jonathan Twigg of England gives Kiera Mallas a high-five during Challenger Sports’ British soccer camp that Nansemond-Suffolk Academy hosted last year. Suffolk Parks and Recreation is hosting the camp next week at Bennett's Creek Park.

British coaches head to Suffolk

Published 7:12pm Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A rare training and horizon-expanding opportunity awaits the growing community of young soccer players in Suffolk.

Suffolk Parks and Recreation has partnered with Challenger Sports to bring a British soccer camp to the city for youths ages 3-14 on July 21-25 at Bennett’s Creek Park.

Roberto Ramos of Suffolk Parks and Recreation said the city knows what it is getting because it has worked before with Challenger Sports, described on its company website as being the largest soccer camp operator in the United States and Canada.

Suffolk youth who participate in next week’s camp will be coached by one of the 1,200 elite British soccer coaches who have flown to the U.S. specifically to lead Challenger Sports’ camps. And they bring more than just impressive soccer skills and knowledge.

“They bring culture, so they’ll teach kids about what they did in England,” Ramos said. He added the camps also give youths “a chance to meet professional soccer players. How many times do you get a chance to do that?”

With the goal of making campers better players, the British coaches will provide a personalized skills performance evaluation, letting them know what areas need improvement.

Ramos said the time is ripe for a camp like this in Suffolk.

“I would say soccer’s probably the fastest-growing sport,” he said.

The city has provided indoor soccer for at least the last seven years. “That’s always been a big hit with our teams here,” Ramos said.

This year was the first that the city provided an outdoor soccer league, because the interest was there to sustain it. The league, for youths ages 4-8, ran from April to June at Sleepy Hole Park and had 54 participants.

Baseball is the dominant sport in the spring, but Ramos has observed it is not for everyone.

“We’re getting a lot of kids that don’t want to do baseball, but they still want to be active,” Ramos said.

For some, soccer is an effective way to keep in shape for basketball or football.

Ramos also cited the recently concluded World Cup as contributing to the growing interest in the sport. Because of it, “more kids are going to hopefully get out there and get more active in soccer,” he said.

Participants in the British soccer camp will receive a free T-shirt, a free soccer ball and a free soccer poster. Additionally, all participants are eligible to receive a free U.S. soccer jersey that will be raffled off.

Ramos said those signing up now will be late registrants, but they will be accepted until Friday.

Space is limited and parents are encouraged to sign up online in advance to avoid missing out. Visit www.ChallengerSports.com to sign up.

Bennett’s Creek Park, where the camp will be held, is located at 3000 Bennetts Creek Park Road.

For more information or to register, contact Roberto Ramos at 514-7270 or rramos@suffolkva.us.

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