June 6, 2006
Albany -- The World Cup begins Friday in Germany, but young fans in Albany looking for an international flavor a little closer to home are out at the YMCA sports complex for the British Challenger Soccer camp.
The long running program teaching the campers all the basic skills, and also serving as a cultural exchange.
"1, 2, 3...Oooh! Aaah! British Soccer!!!" is the cheer marking the end of today's morning session.
They'd call it football in England, but the British Challenger Soccer camp in Albany for the fourteenth year this week, and YMCA Youth Sports Director Keith Southwell says it's always worth the trip.
"They do an excellent job," says Southwell, "giving the kids a new perspective on soccer with a little bit of an accent."
Instructor Paul Hennessey says, "We're got a little bit of an international spice. Especially with (fellow instructor) Ben being Welsh, that's given the children a bit of a different experience as well."
Camper Lindsay Cribb says she's learning a lot.
"New moves in British. How to dribble and pass. It's fun."
This is Hennessey's third year with the program, and says he's impressed with the Peach State. "
It's my first week in Georgia," says Hennessey. "It's a really good state. I love this part of the world. The weather has been a bit of a shock, I'll admit."
Hennessey says he was also shocked by the knowledge of the campers.
"They know their stuff, and that surprised me. I wasn't so sure. They're asking me questions yesterday I didn't know the answers to about certain soccer teams back home."
Southwell says, "It definitely helps build soccer in the area. Especially in World Cup years, our numbers definitely seem to pick up."
In fact, there's only one thing Lindsay Cribb is NOT planning on learning, and that's playing soccer with an English accent.
"Nah. We're going to keep on playing like we were, but with new moves," Cribb says with a smile.
The British Soccer Challenger Camps have over 1,500 camps in 49 states and Canada.