The Sunshine Coast Youth Soccer Association kicked off its new season in a big way last weekend with a Vancouver Whitecaps skills camp at Kinnikinnick Park in Sechelt.
The two-day camp saw close to 800 kids from ages three to 18 in all divisions of the SCYSA House League take part.
“It was a big weekend for the association,” said SCYSA technical director Ken Campbell. “The turnout was huge — at least 75 to 80 per cent of the kids showed up for the sessions which is fantastic. The kids all seemed to be excited and loved the opportunity. I spent most of the weekend watching and from what I saw, the kids were having fun, asking lots of questions and learning new skills.”
And being excited and learning new skills are what the camps are all about according to Vancouver Whitecaps manager of camps and clinics Sam Lenarduzzi.
“We worked mostly on skills. You have to learn the fundamentals first, things like passing and ball handling, team play,” he said. “This was almost like a pre-season camp for them and hopefully these players will take what they learned last weekend and apply it to their games when they start their season.”
Lenarduzzi said the partnership between the Whitecaps and the SCYSA is growing.
“We are very happy with the relationship that we have fostered,” said Lenarduzzi. “This is our fourth year of coming to the Coast with this type of weekend camp. We were here towards the end of the school year with our school program where we visited four or five schools in one day. We’ll be back in October to do a program with the rep kids. It’s a huge partnership that has evolved to promote soccer on the Coast and I’m very pleased to see where that partnership is heading.”
“With the Whitecaps now in the MLS and the way soccer is growing in Vancouver, it’s very important for our association to capitalize on this opportunity,” said Campbell. “These camps and working with the Whitecaps is an opportunity to get world-class coaching and is an opportunity to be seen by Whitecaps scouts. There maybe a chance for some of our players from the Coast to get involved in the Caps residency program in the Lower Mainland and higher levels of soccer off-Coast, which would be a huge thing for our association.
“I think they’re keeping kids excited about playing soccer. They see the Whitecaps on TV and they look up to the players. It’s all about creating excitement about the game.”