If the 2014 Word Cup is any indication, soccer (or football as it is known throughout the world) remains the most popular sport on the planet. That is, of course, everywhere outside of the United States.
That too, however, seems to be shifting and one of the main reasons is that more children are playing soccer in the United States than any other sport. Additionally, they are starting to learn from some of the finest coaches in the world.
Youth in Charlotte, last week, had the opportunity to learn from two coaches from England through the UK International AYSO program. Mike Williams and Mike Amorford spent Monday, July 7 through Friday, July 11 teaching local 5 to 15 year olds the finer points of being a good player as well as a good person.
“We use the INSPIRE curriculum, which is intended to improve them as footballers, but to also become better people,” said Williams, who directed the camp. “If these kids can take something from this experience for life, not just football, but that social component as well, it’s fantastic.”
Local AYSO coach Brad Gingrich, who helped set up the UK International camp in Charlotte, said he was impressed at how engaging the two coaches were.
“Mike and Mike are absolutely great with the kids,” said Brad Gingrich, AYSO coach and organizer of the weeklong camp. “They really kept the kids moving the entire three hours.”
Gingrich was particularly impressed by the personal evaluation each camper received from the two international coaches.
“Each kid leaves knowing exactly what they need to do to improve,” Gingrich said. “It’s something they can utilize the rest of the summer.”
This is Williams first year in the UK International program, though he has seven years experience in youth development and the professional standard of football in England. He said he joined UK International as a way to continue to gain coaching experience as the competition for coaches in the United Kingdom is intense.
“There us a rigorous interview process back home,” he explained.
He said he was impressed by the level of ability and knowledge displayed by many of the Charlotte campers. Throughout the week the campers focused one a specific set of skills each day. In addition to learning about passing and receiving, striking and controlling, participants worked on friendship and focus, self esteem and belonging and execution.
“The standards here a quite good,” Williams said.