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Brits bring ‘religion’ to the county

CHESAPEAKE — It was a different kind of cowboys and Indians that they were playing out at the Lawrence County Airpark Tuesday morning.

The arrows these “Indians” were shooting at the phalanx of “cowboys” coming across the field were cushy inflated blue and white soccer balls. But the school yard game was all a part of teaching local soccer enthusiasts from 3 years old to middle school the basics of the sport that is like breathing to Europe and Great Britain.

“They think they are playing a game,” said Daniel Brown of Challenger Sports. “But they’re learning skills.” Challenger Sports, the international soccer camp organizer, was conducting the camps.

This week Brown and fellow soccer coaches from Britain are teaching the fundamentals at the soccer camp under the auspices of the Eastern Lawrence Youth Soccer Association.

Last week the coaches worked with area high school students, all with the goal of expanding the enthusiasm and skill level of the sport that has increased in popularity in the county.

“I was born into it,” Brown said. “My father played professional soccer.”

Sitting on the sidelines Tuesday morning was Scott Sanders of Chesapeake, whose 13-year-old son, Tyler, was going through the drills that morning.

“The British coaches, they have a love for the game that people over here don’t have,” Sanders said.

The week-long camp for the younger players was focusing on teaching passing, dribbling, shooting and ball control through age-oriented drills. At the end of each three-hour session the student athletes got ready to perform scrimmages in their version of the World Cup games.

So far the British coaches have been impressed with the young American counter parts.

“They are really a good standout,” Joe Medcalf, another coach said. “They’re mid range. This is the best sport in the world. It’s a religion.”