For several thousand young boys and girls in the area, their once or twice a week games are plenty enough to fill their soccer quota, allowing a couple of chances to partake in a good run while still allowing for opportunities to squeeze in the balance of their activities of summer fun.
But for that much smaller minority, twice a week play is but the tip of the iceberg. For these avid participants, time must be set aside to work on specific skill sets with friends and family, perhaps take in a game or two on television, maybe even find time to add in another encounter while competing on a second team.
It is this latter group that comprised the bulk of those in attendance at the GSSC (Greater Sudbury Soccer Club) Summer Camp 2017 at Cambrian College last week. “I came to camp because I wanted to learn even more,” stated 11 year old Blake Rosener, echoing the thoughts of so many of the kids on hand. “I thought it would be really fun to play scrimmages and play with my friends. I’ve learned lots more.”
The youngest of two boys in the family, along with a healthy collection of step-siblings, Rosener has been playing soccer since the age of three, originally introduced to the game at the Falconbridge fields with the Nickel Centre Minor Soccer Association.
“I really liked it, and my dad encouraged me to play lots, so that made me want to do it more,” said the young man, prepping for grade seven this fall. “Early in soccer, I learned to do lots of dribbling moves, like the scissors and the roulette. Now he’s teaching me moves like the Rinaldinho. It’s tougher to say the name than learn the move,” Rosener added with a laugh.
Migrating through a variety of positions over the years, Rosener has found the near perfect fit in the midfield. “I don’t run out of energy really quick, so I run back and forth a lot – and I really like to play up.” In fact, his ability to jump in with the offense comes with a tactical game plan already in mind.
“If I didn’t have the ball, I would try and get into space and then call for the ball,” said Rosener. “If I got the ball, I would set up for the shot and take it.” If Rosener thinks as a goal scorer, 11 year old Hannah Whitmore represents the segment of players who prefer the role of playmaker.
“I like passing,” noted the member of the Sudbury Penguins. “When you see other people open, you have to pass to them right away. You direct it with the inside of your foot. If there is someone in between, you dribble the sides and then make the pass.”
Like so many of those on the field on this day, Whitmore found herself drawn to the game, before quickly demonstrating a natural touch that would separate her from the crowd. “I just got interested because I saw all the soccer games on TV,” she said. “I started drawing about them. Then I started with Sudburnia and my dad said I was a really good soccer player.”
“I did lots of practice and then lots of passing when I was in games. My dad saw lots of passing and lots of running, so he said why don’t I put you in (GSSC) Impact.” Pointing out that she and her teammates are a very natural fit for their Penguin jerseys – “because we’re very feisty and we run fast” – Whitmore acknowledged a particular recipe for success that seems to work for them.
“We have good teammates and we have good conversations when we are at practice,” she explained. “We have conversations about where people are going to be standing during the games.”
The key that is solid positioning is obvious even to seven year old Harry Yeamans, competing as an underager on the Northern Soccer Academy U9 team. He has seen the benefits first hand, albeit primarily through the work of his opponents.
“It’s pretty cool playing with Northern Soccer Academy, playing against way harder teams with players that are way better,” said Yeamans. “They spread out, they pass a lot, lots of their players are pretty tall, so they can reach high spots in the net. Their shots can go bar down in some nets.”
Thankfully, imitation is the highest form of flattery. “We’re getting a lot better at passing,” admitted Yeamans. “We’re spreading out, calming down, trying to pause so that you can see your options.”
By the end of the week at camp, Yeamans, like the others, had added a few more weapons to his soccer arsenal. “They taught me how to do lots of offensive tricks, like the rainbow,” he said. “You put the ball behind you and then you flick it up.”