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Kids

Port Elgin locals, from left, Paxton (10), Cash (8), Allie (12) and Luna (10) were having lots of fun and learning new skills at the Challenger Soccer Camp.

Hub Staff

This week, July 16 to 20, saw over 160 young soccer players attend the JH Robertson Soccer Complex in Port Elgin for the Challenger Soccer Camp, hosted by the Saugeen Shores United Football Club (SSUFC) .

Coaches came from the US, Australia, England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland and took to the pitch to teach soccer skills to local players.

“It’s a British soccer curriculum, pretty much,” said Coach Kyla Yager who is from New Orleans and after attending school in Toronto is heading back to the US. Yager has been a coach for nine years and is in her second year with the Challenger Camp. “They get as many international staff as they can as well as local staff and basically coach kids all around the country,” she said, adding that Challenger also hosts camps in the US.

The camp sees U6 and U8 age groups train in the mornings with afternoons dedicated to U10, U12 and U15. “It’s like short, intense training,” said Yager, adding that each day focusses on developing different skills. Day 1 is dribbling, day 2 is passing, day 3 is shooting, day 4 is defending and day 5 is dedicated to aerial control work. “Depending on the coach, you put your own spin on the curriculum and your coaching style,” Yager said.

Camp Director, Edward Walker, who is from Tamworth, England, said Challenger is designed to encourage the game of soccer in the US and Canada. “It's seen as quite a minority sport but it's actually one of the most commonly played sports in youth in this area and the whole country,” said Walker. “So we take the gimmick of encouraging soccer and its design,” he added.

“You’ve got coaches from countries that live the game, they want to teach it out here,” he added.

“North America just won the World Cup bid in 2026, Canada, USA and Mexico, so that will certainly help to go with this and this is all about inspiring them to be a part of it.” Walker said that skills and techniques are taught through game play so the players are having fun but learning as well.

Coaches

Five international Challenger Soccer Camp coaches travelled to Saugeen Shores to teach local youth new soccer skills and techniques. From left, Will Cavanagh from the Republic of Ireland, Edward Walker from England, Kyla Yager from the United States, Coilean Melarkey from Northern Ireland and Alex Larkin from Australia.

Group

Over 160 children participated in the Challenger Soccer Camp hosted by Saugeen Shores United Football Club.

Emily

Using her newly learned skills, Emily takes the ball up field in the camp's Iceland versus Belgium World Cup game.