- Published on Friday, 19 October 2012 06:17
From 2-5 October, Ambassadors in Sport ran its first soccer camp in Cape Town, South Africa. We partnered with Common Ground Church and was held on the grounds of a local cricket club. We had 69 kids, aged 6-13 years, participate from all different soccer skill levels, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.
On the first day, the kids were all waiting to find out who their coaches and teammates would be. Some were disappointed that they wouldn't be with their friends on their own teams, but that feeling soon evaporated. They got working on soccer skills quickly and despite it only being a four day camp, some of them showed quite a bit of improvement.
One young man, who has quite advanced foot-skills for his age, had a hard time playing as part of his team. He would take the ball up field and not pass. The whole team would get annoyed because they couldn't succeed as a team. We were focusing on doing the right thing in our Bible times throughout the week and how to put that into practice. By the end of the week, he learned to pass to and encourage his teammates. In the end, his team won the World Cup in his age group. It was a good reminder that to succeed, we must work together.
Cape Town isn't known for being the most racially integrated place in the world, but it was good to see the sport of soccer break down those barriers. Kids from affluent families were playing the beautiful game alongside kids who live in wendy-houses from the poorest communities. We were thankful for people who sponsored these children so that they could attend the camp with a new pair of boots and shin-pads.
There was one young man who owned a pair of goal-keeper gloves, but who didn't want to play keeper during the week. Another young man could not afford to buy a pair, but was playing the position. The next day, he was given the gloves so that he could play. This kind of coming together without regards to backgrounds made our week as coaches.
At the end of the week, there were various skills competitions that tested each camper individually. There was the dribbling, penalty kick, six-second shoot-out, and goal-keeper competitions. Each division had a winner for each and all the kids were cheering for their favorites to win.
Beyond that, there was the Sportsmanship Award for each division. This award was given to the player who showed not only soccer skills, but a willingness to help everyone around them. This included their own teammates, their opponents, and the coaches while showing a positive attitude in everything they did. These were the kids that exemplified what AIS soccer camps are all about.
We hope to be able to do this again next year.
Many parents have come back to us since the camp, here are a few comments:
"I would just like to say a very big thank you to all involved in organizing such a great soccer camp! My boys, Jonny and Bertie had a good time and enjoyed themselves tremendously. Looking forward to next year's camp!"
"My kids are still talking about their experience at the camp and when it ended that friday as they got into the care they were so sad because they said that they are going to miss the camp....and they really do miss it! So a big thank you from us to all who made this camp available and possible it was really successful. We had so much fun!!
Written by Greg Jewell