7/21/2010 11:36:00 AM 'British invasion' on Prescott Valley's soccer field
Coaches from Great Britain for the Challenger Soccer Camp in Prescott Valley in June are, from l-r: Nick Ford, Chantelle Miller, Ollie Harrington, Aaron Hall and Richard Jennings.
Trib Photo/Cheryl Hartz
The Challenger Soccer Campís tiniest tots band together to kick the ball, even though some have no clue as to where itís gone (in front of far right player).
Prescott Valley experienced its own British Invasion of sorts when Challenger Sports set up its British Soccer Camp June 28 through July 2, 2010, on the amphitheater soccer field. Photos by Cheryl Hartz.
Prescott Valley experienced its own British Invasion of sorts when Challenger Sports set up its British Soccer Camp June 28 through July 2 on the amphitheater soccer field.
With the Yavapai College soccer scoreboard looming from field's edge, 85 aspiring soccer stars as young as 2 braved the heat to learn British-style "football" from five young coaches.
Even after four days of running across the huge field, the youngsters still showed great enthusiasm, responding eagerly to their British leaders Thursday morning.
Each year, 900 coaches come to the U.S. from the U.K. to run the camps. They learn as much about the country as their charges learn about soccer, because over three months, they drive to each new destination in rental cars and stay with host families.
In Prescott Valley, the only Welsh coach - and the lone woman - is Chantelle Miller, 23. In her third year with the Challenger program, she's coached soccer in 15 U.S. states, she said.
A recent law (enforcement) graduate of Glamorden University in Wales, Miller has a police job waiting for her when she returns home.
Another Glamorden grad, Nick Ford, 22, majored in sports coaching and performance.
"I hope to move to the U.S. I want to stay in the company, and move up, I hope, to regional director," Ford said. "And maybe eventually work with Major League Soccer."
Richard Jennings, 23, spent all three months of the previous summer in Maine as a Challenger coach, whereas this year he's been in Nevada, Arizona and is headed for Utah. The Huddersfield, England, native recently graduated with a criminology degree from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, and also plans to enter the police force.
Although he battled a chest infection during his week in Prescott Valley, he said, "My (host) family's been very good to me."
Aaron Hall, 21, is a student in forensic science, also at UCL, planning for a CSI job. From Manchester, England, Hall said it's difficult driving on the right side of the road. He will get used to it, though, because he's going to 12 different camps this summer.
The youngest coach at 20, Ollie Harrington plans to be a sports psychologist when he graduates from Bournemouth University in a couple of years. From Reading, England, Harrington endured the 7.5-hour drive across the desert from San Diego with Hall to get to his first assignment here.
All have grown up playing soccer, competing in high school and college.
"Back home, football is the most important sport," said Miller, noting that teams are subsidized so players don't have to pay. "It's quite expensive here (in the U.S.), with traveling teams and such."
"In England soccer is just competitive, not recreational," added Harrington.
"It can be coached all year round," Jennings said. "Here the high school teams have restrictions on seasons."
While he loved the competition, Jennings also enjoys coaching for Challenger.
"We're all in our element," he said. "It brings out our childish side and we can be as crazy as we want."
Miller, who also plays internationally for Wales with the Cardiff City Ladies, likes The Challenger Way because "it's about showing respect." The program also focuses on nutrition, responsibility and integrity (sportsmanship).
Praise and encouragement are real tools for the coaches, who took note of each player's efforts and made sure to single out each one by name. Although some of the older kids acted a bit embarrassed, their faces shone with more than perspiration.