Kids get kicks at city soccer camp

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 18, 2004

Six-year-old Hunter Latham, left, battles for a ball with Nicholas Wright, 5, at the Vicksburg Youth Soccer Camp earlier this week.(Meredith Spencer The Vicksburg Post)

[6/18/04]The benefits of soccer are many learning teamwork, staying fit, and seeing people pull together for a common goal.

Jason Hopkins hopes the attendees of Vicksburg Youth Soccer Camp derived at least some of those benefits this week. The camp, sponsored by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, concluded today at City Pool.

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“Soccer is great for the kids,” Hopkins said. “Everyone learns and has fun, and they are outdoors and active.”

Young soccer players, many of whom have never had much instruction, learned the fundamentals from volunteers and coaches of several area high school and community college soccer teams.

“This is the first time a lot of these kids have ever had real coaching,” said Justin Jones, a volunteer at the camp. “Most of them probably haven’t really been exposed to much of that at all in their prep leagues, and just this little bit of good coaching could help a lot.”

The players weren’t the only ones benefitting from this week’s camp, however.

The coaches helping out at the camp got a chance to see some of the talent that they will be working with in the coming years.

“This the first time a lot of these coaches have ever communicated with each other,” Hopkins said. “It’s good for the community aspect of soccer.

“They are also getting a first look at what they’re going to be dealing with in a few years. Out of the 70 or 80 kids here, a few might go on to be key players on high school teams later down the road.”

The camp was considered a huge success by the organizers, mainly because of the short time they had to organize it.

Hopkins and several others approached the Parks and Recreation Department about three weeks ago to discuss renting the softball fields and pavillion at City Park, where the camp is being held.

Parks and Recreation, instead of renting out the location, offered to sponsor the camp. This is the city’s first major venture into organized soccer in years.

“We’re hoping this will plant a seed with the city,” said volunteer coach Carlos Lee. “Maybe the success of this camp will show them that there is a big soccer community in Vicksburg. Could this be an annual thing? Maybe. If the interest stays high, and all our sponsors and facilities continue to be available to us, I don’t see why not.”