When town sports and recreation coordinator Mary Wolf is overheard shouting “The British are coming,” she’s not impersonating Paul Revere but rather letting it be know that Challenger’s British Soccer Camps will soon be in Payson.
But having the Brits visit is nothing new —Challenger Soccer debuted in the Rim Country in 2008 and has returned each summer since to provide Rim Country youth a glimpse of what the sport is like in the United Kingdom.
The arrival of the British, who serve as camp coaches, is more than just sports. While in Payson, the coaches reside with local families — usually those who have children enrolled in the camp.
“Last year, the families that hosted were so impressed by the coaches and loved the opportunity for their kids to get to know these young men and women from the United Kingdom,” said Wolf. “They shared stories about their own families, life growing up in the UK and their true love of soccer.”
Hosting families receive discounts on their children’s camp fees.
The next Challenger camp in Payson will be held June 4-8 on the Rumsey Park north multipurpose field.
The camp will feature several skill/age sessions including First Kicks, Mini-Soccer, five Half-Day Development sessions and a Full-Day Development session.
First Kicks is open to aspiring players 3 to 4 years olds. In First Kicks, the campers are introduced to the game basics through fundamental activities, games and fun soccer challenges. The camps will be held from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. each day. Parents are encouraged to join in to help their children.
The Mini-Soccer, for 5- to 6-year-olds, has fun games, competitions and skill-building activities used to help develop budding players. The sessions are each day from 9:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
In the Half-Day Player Development camps, emphasis is placed on mastery of core soccer techniques through individual and small group practices and coached games. The sessions are 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. During the afternoon, a first-ever goalkeepers and strikers program will be held.
Full-Day Player Development camp is aimed at youths 8 to 18. It is a more advanced session for serious players. The curriculum includes game-related techniques, tactical development and coached match play. The sessions run 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Last year, the camps ran straight through the day, wrapping up in late afternoon.
“We changed the camp hours to get the kids out of the afternoon heat,” Wolf said.
The fees are $84 for First Kicks, $99 for Mini-Soccer, $130 for Half Day and $180 for Full Day camp.
All campers receive a camp T-shirt, soccer ball, giant soccer poster and an individual skills performance evaluation.
Challenger officials make it known one of the most popular activities during the week is “Camp Word Cup” — a tournament coaches use to teach players about life, customs and traditions of other countries.
During the tournaments, campers are asked to make up cheers, bring flags, dress up and learn as much as they can about the country they represent.
Online registration for the upcoming Payson camp may be completed at www.challenger sports.com or at the parks and recreation office in Green Valley Park. All campers receive a shirt, camp ball, personal evaluation and an end-of-camp gift.
Call Mary Wolf at (928) 474-5242, extension 7, for more information.