What started out as a mutual friendship among spouses has grown into an international effort to improve the game of soccer in Cache Valley. Licensed coaches from England who have coached at Manchester City and Leeds United and recently-retired English Premier League footballer Richard Cresswell will all be in Cache Valley next week teaching the game of soccer from a professional perspective.
The coaches are coming along with licensed agents and scouts, and if they see that a player or two has what it takes, they will be invited to participate in a legitimate tryout with professional clubs in the United Kingdom.
“This opens the door to some pretty amazing opportunities that most kids only dream about,” says Dan Cox, local soccer coach and founder of Aggies FC who has been working with i2i SPORTS to organize next week’s camp.
i2i SPORTS represents professional players and coaches throughout the United Kingdom and all over the world. The principal organizers of i2i SPORTS were in Cox’s wedding and he was in there’s. And now, because of that relationship, the soccer agency is bringing professional level training to Cache Valley.
“We’ll arrive Sunday and we’ll do a review of the facilities and visit coaches,” says Kent Mayall, one of the directors of i2i SPORTS and close friend of Cox. “The coaching starts on Monday. We’ll be doing coaching Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.”
Mayall says camps will be going for several different age groups, from as young as eight years old all the way up to 24. The camp will take place at Elk Ridge Park (2500 N. 1060 E.) in North Logan and it will be broken up for different times of the day.
“We’ve taken some advice; we have a different climate here than you do. We’ve been warned that it’s mighty hot. The U8 to U15 will go from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and the U16 to U24 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.”
Mayall says the camp will help players across many different experience levels, from beginning, medium to advanced. Three of the four coaches coming over formerly coached with Manchester City and League United and will be able to quickly determine the abilities of camp participants.
He says the coaches will take the time in the afternoon to review what went well, what they can improve on and evaluate the players. On the 24th, the camp will take a break and the British envoy will participate in various cultural events in celebration of Utah’s state holiday.
“On Friday we’re going to hold some trial games, I think you call them scrimmages,” Mayall says. “That is the opportunity where we will have some scouts from i2i SPORTS who have connections with professional clubs. If we do find somebody who has that ability, we will invite them over for a trial where they can come over for a week and try out with York City. We may not find that person there, but if we do that will be fantastic.”
Cox says that even if nobody ends up traveling to the UK for a tryout with a professional club, it will still be a wonderful opportunity to learn from some of the best in the game, particularly from Cresswell who had a nearly 18 year professional career.
“It’s very difficult to get someone like that,” Mayall says. “He may not be a big name, a household name, but he has played at the very, very top level of football. The opportunity for these youngsters, if nothing else, is to have fun.”
Besides having fun, the organizers want the participants to enjoy the cultural differences and learn specific techniques that will improve their game.
“Each coaching session will have a particular theme,” Mayall says. “So it could be a transition session, like how you get from defense to attack. What we’ll be looking for during the scrimmages is how they implement that into their game, how well they listened.”
With the recent success of the U.S. Men’s National Team in the World Cup, the timing is ideal for this type of camp.
“I’ve seen the level of play increase dramatically over the last 20 years in America,” says Mayall. “There are more soccer fields that have cropped up, the MLS has made a huge difference, and how well you’ve done in the previous World Cup and this World Cup is testament to how grass roots football is going over there.”
“The worst thing that could happen is that kids get pro-level training at half the price,” Cox says. ICON Health and Fitness has stepped in to help cover many of the costs associated with bringing in such top-level coaches.
For more information about the camp, <a href=”http://www2.enteri2i.com/i2isports/SoccerCamp.html” target=”_blank”>click here</a>.