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West Point set to host soccer camp, build more interest

July 26, 2011

While local high schools strap on the pads and helmets in preparation for another exciting football season, Friday, area kids and parents will lace up the cleats to learn the basics of futbol; you know soccer.

The West Point Soccer Organization and the West Point Parks and Recreation Department have teamed together to provide a free Coerver Coaching skills clinic starting at 10am near the main office for the parks and recreation department.

Coerver Coaching is a world renown soccer clinic that works with both players, coaches and parents at all levels. After talking with instructors who will be teaching a longer camp in Starkville this week,
Thomas Easterling was able to get them to stop by for a few hours free of charge.

“They want to teach these kids how to control the ball and to play a tight passing game, rather than the long ball,” Easterling said, who is the president of the West Point Soccer Organization. “Here in the America, even more in the south, we play a variation of soccer that relies on speed and athleticism and not as much on technical skills.”

Easterling said these coaches will greatly improve the technical skills of the players within that two hour window to help them learn ball control faster and more efficiently.

“These guys are the best at what they do,” Easterling said.

West Point has been involved in soccer for several years, but mainly at the recreational level and Easterling said they have slowly been coming up to speed with what other communities have been doing across the state. There were very basic rules that governed the game such as restricting where players were allowed to go on the field; “kickball with nets” as Easterling described it.

But over the last two or three years the organization has introduced the legitimate laws and greatly changed how the kids play the game. West Point High School has a soccer program that has been around for a while, but Easterling argues that for soccer to be successful here like football and baseball, it needs to be started at a young age.

“What we need to do is develop a cohort of kids to play soccer together,” he said. “So that when they get to the junior high and high school level, they already know what to expect of each other.”

Coerver Coaching offers season-long academies that run one night a week for eight weeks in communities like Starkville and Tupelo, two of the best soccer hubs in northeast Mississippi. Easterling believes Friday’s camp will jump-start future interest of the sport here in West Point.

“They’ve had that instruction and built that cohort with the younger players on up,” he said. “That’s the kind of thing we can do in West Point because we have the resources, great athletes and parents who are getting interested in the game because their kids enjoy it.”

WPSO will follow up in September with the Mississippi Soccer Association to offer free coaches and referees clinics.

“We joined the MSA this spring,” said Jarrod McDaniel, Parks and Rec associate director. “It’s a great organization dedicated to improving soccer around the state. Part of the way they do that is to require all coaches and refs to be certified to show that they understand the rules of the game.”

The coaching clinic is set for the 8th and the referee clinic is scheduled for the 10th.

McDaniel also noted that MSA coaching clinics also share drills and tactics with coaches, which helps to level the playing field. “When that happens,” he said, “the league gets more competitive, and the kids have more fun.”

For more information, contact the Parks and Recreation department at 494-3214.

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