Young soccer players thrill to British Invasion

OAK HARBOR Gordon Allan ran down the soccer field with a whistle in his hands. In a loud voice, Allan yelled, "Goal,"
May 24, 2010



Gordon Allan ran down the soccer field with a whistle in his hands.

In a loud voice, Allan yelled, "Goal," in his thick Scottish accent.

Allan, 23, of Glasgow, Scotland, and fellow coach, Tom Graham, 21, of Yorkshire, England, taught children from around Ottawa County basic soccer skills during their week-long camp.

"A lot of American coaches try to focus on the fitness level instead of the skill level of the players," Graham said. "We try to help them build the skills of the player."

Throughout the camp, children ranging in age from 5-14 years old learn heading, dribbling, shooting and passing.

"They'll struggle because they've never tried to teach the body to run and have a ball at their feet," Allan said. "A lot of them have learned hand-eye coordination, but not many have learned foot-eye coordination. Once they get that they'll get better and better."

Graham and Allan have been running camps since June 9 in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky through Challenge British Soccer, the largest provider of camps in the U.S. and Canada.

Cheryl Smith, coordinator of the camp and president of Port Clinton Youth Soccer, helped bring the camp to the area last year.

"They're clowns," Smith said. "They're very kid-oriented. They keep you laughing, and the kids have really taken to these two coaches."

Lisa Lenke of Oak Harbor said the camp was a good experience for her daughter.

"I just think soccer is a good sport for kids to be involved to teach teamwork, discipline and fun," Lenke said. "I thought it was a good learning opportunity."

"Hopefully everyone comes away better soccer players than they came here on Monday," Graham said. "I'm not expecting them to perfect (their skills) at camp, but if they do them at home, they'll be able to perfect them and have confidence in their ability."

Graham will head back to University of Hull to finish a degree in history, but hopes to coach in the future.

Allan will coach a select team from Wisconsin in the fall and will soon graduate from the University of Paisley with a degree in sports studies.