Approximately 30 youth aged seven to 13 hit the pitch last week at Hackett Park in Sechelt for the inaugural Athletes in Action soccer camp.
For five days, university, college and club soccer players helped the eager and enthusiastic youngsters develop fundamental ball dribbling, shooting, passing and control skills. Each day included exciting competitions and fun tournaments with World Cup and Euro Cup-style events.
There was also a mentorship component to the camp, which saw a lot of individual attention paid to each player to help him or her grow physically, socially, mentally and spiritually.
“Athletes in Action is affiliated with Power to Change, a Christian organization that uses sport to share the good news of God’s love and heart for us,” said Crossroads Community Church pastor Joel Defries. “This is the first time we have had the camp up here on the Sunshine Coast. We at the church are looking at ways to connect and come alongside the community with something that is practical. The bulk and majority of the day is around soccer, which is a passion of people here on the Coast. I’ve worked with Athletes in Action for the past five years now, and they have done a great program. The coaches they bring up do a really good job of running the camp.”
Defries said the camp is fairly diverse and offers a wide range of skills for the players.
“The kids are having a great time and so are the instructors — in fact, I think some of the instructors are having even more fun than the kids,” he said. “One of the neat things we have been able to do is provide for some kids who don’t have the funds to come — the church has sponsored them, so it’s been free for them and given them a chance that they wouldn’t have had.”
Defries said he was very happy with the week and hopes to bring Athletes in Action back again next year.
“We will evaluate after to see if it was a benefit to the community,” he said. “It’s interesting because Crossroads itself has five kids participating, with the bulk of the participants from other churches on the Coast and from the community at large, which is great. That’s the goal. The church isn’t just about the church; the church is about caring and loving the community around, and that’s what we hope to do.”