Second annual AYSA Soccer Camp in full swing

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 9, 2005

It’s true that most of the state is holding its breath for football season to get underway. But there’s a sizable and growing portion of Demopolis’s population that’s ready for a very different type of football to kick off its season.

But before the Demopolis Youth Soccer league gets underway, board member Dr. Peter Keen has worked with the Alabama Youth Soccer Association to organize the second annual AYSA Summer Soccer Camp in Demopolis. The camp, which runs Monday through Wednesday of this week at the SportPlex, gives Demopolis’s now-and-future soccer players a kick-start to their soccer season.

Keen admits that he would have liked to have seen more of a turn-out in the older age brackets, but that the camp has seen growth amongst younger age groups, including the 5-and-6-year old “Beginners” group that took the field Monday afternoon under the supervision of the AYSA’s John Andrews and AYSA Assistant Director of Coaching Mark Prizant.

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Keen says the job AYSA coaches like Andrews and Prizant have done is nothing less than outstanding.

“The parents have enjoyed it, the kids are having a blast,” he says. “To keep the kids’ attention like they’ve done is incredible.”

For their part, Andrews and Prizant say they’re happy to be in Demopolis and are impressed with the enthusiasm and skills they’ve encountered.

“It’s a great little town,” Andrews says. “We’ve seen a very high standard of soccer here. The kids here must be practicing a lot on their own.”

In working with the “Beginners” groups, Andrews and Prizant use a coaching strategy Prizant calls “Storybook Soccer” to introduce young players to both basic techniques and, more importantly, how much fun they can have playing soccer.

“It’s fun,” Andrews says, when asked what the goal of Monday afternoon’s “Beginners” session. “We use a lot of different games, and they all incorporate different skills. But the kids don’t realize they’re learning skills…they’re just out there having fun.”

And since the more, the merrier, Andrews hopes that these Beginners will have enough fun to not only stick with the sport, but to introduce it to friends who might end up sticking with it as well.

“They’ll go back and show their friends how much fun they’ve had, and hopefully their friends will come back with them and more people will be playing soccer here,” Andrews says. “That’s what we want.”