Earlier this spring an announcement appeared inside a print edition of The News Journal about Challenger Sports’ British Soccer Camp, which returned to Whitley County for the second year just this past week. The camp included instruction for children as young as 2-3 years of age, and progressed all the way up to high school aged players. Conducting this year’s camp was Anthony Goss, who has traveled to the United States all the way from England to help teach kids about the world’s most popular sport – soccer.
“I’ve been coaching soccer for nine years in England, and this is my first year in America,” said Goss when asked about his background in coaching. “I am now working with Challenger Sports, who hosts the British Soccer camps and is becoming a worldwide organization. I was working in Ohio this spring, and this summer will be helping with camps across Ohio and Kentucky.”
Goss, who is currently based out of Cincinnati, is part of a large network of British soccer coaches that will be responsible for assisting over 120,000 kids in learning about the game of soccer over the course of this summer. Challenger Sports will be conducting British Soccer Camps similar to the one in Williamsburg in all 50 states across the US this year.
Included in the instruction at each camp, said Goss, is the idea of “Champions of Character,” which focuses on the five key elements of responsibility, sportsmanship, respect, integrity and leadership.
“The idea is that it doesn’t matter how good of a soccer player you are,” explained Goss. “In these camps we try to teach the kids about these elements. Hopefully they can then implement them in soccer, and in other areas of life as well.”
When asked about his view on the popularity of soccer in the US compared to other countries around the world, Goss said, “It is definitely growing. Coaches that I have spoken to who have been here before say that a couple of years ago nobody knew about any famous soccer players. Now kids know about the some of the best players in the world. They know about many of the more popular teams. The knowledge is growing.”
Goss attributes this growing knowledge in large part to soccer being more prevalent on television, which he says helps to generate interest among the general population, including young prospective players.
As for the role that Challenger Sports is playing in increasing interest in the sport in the US by presenting their annual British Soccer Camps, Goss said that the organization has continued to grow each year since it came into existence in 1984, and more camps are being added in more regions across the country every spring and summer.
Whitley County Colonels soccer Head Coach Jarred Earnest has played an integral role in bringing British Soccer to this area. He said that he was contacted by a Challenger Sports regional representative about the idea of having a camp in Williamsburg a couple of years ago, and now it is something that he would like to see happen for years to come.
“Hopefully we can grow the camp,” said Earnest. “I would like to do some more fundraising for it, and maybe get our team involved in some way. These coaches bring a real expertise with them, and my thought is, ‘Why wouldn’t a player want to hear from someone who has played their entire life and lives the sport each and every day?’”
Earnest wanted to point out that the British Soccer Camps are for both boys and girls, and in the coming years he is hoping that the camp will become something that will translate into increased interest in the high school program.
“I am still in the process of building a soccer program here,” Earnest explained. “I am constantly changing the way I do things, and I’m just trying to bring as much soccer as I can to this area. I want to bring it to those who want to learn, and I see this camp as a potential stepping stone for those who want to learn and get better.”
“If we begin to see increased enrollment at these camps, then we would see more coaches coming in, and they would possibly do more team-based instruction. I am going to keep working with whoever I can to make the program here the best it can be. It won’t be a quick fix, but as long as kids are willing to work for it, so am I.”
Coach Earnest said that he can be contacted by phone at 859-248-0520 if anyone has any questions regarding the Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp. Those interested can also visit the Challenger Sports website at www.challengersports.com.