Pictured are the more than 100 youngsters and instructors who are participating in the annual Fairbanks Youth Soccer Camp. The program began on Monday and runs through Thursday.
“We’ve really got a lot of kids in camp.”
Those were the words Fairbanks High School girls soccer coach Randy Spain used in describing the annual youth camp that began on the Panther field Monday evening.
Approximately 120 boys and girls ages 3-14 are participating in the sessions that will run through Thursday evening.
The camp is in its 17th year and has in the past averaged approximately 100 participants.
Just what is the reason for such a huge increase in numbers this year?
“It’s just a growing sport,” said Spain. “More kids are playing soccer these days.
“We’re just overwhelmed with the number of campers we have,” he said. “For instance, we have 54 youngsters in the 7-9 age group. Of that number, 28 are seven-years-old.”
The camp is broken down into three age divisions.
Mike Hefner instructs campers from 3-6 years of age.
Spain works with those ages 7-9 and Fairbanks head boys coach Matt Humphrey is instructing campers ages 10-14.
“Mike is teaching the younger children the basic fundamentals of the sport,” said Spain. “At those ages, we just want to introduce them to the sport of soccer and hope they have fun with it.”
The older-age divisions work on more advanced techniques.
“My group begins with fundamentals such as dribbling and passing the ball,” said Spain.
“Matt works with the older group and he is building on the skills that we’ve taught the campers in the younger divisions over the years.”
Spain also feels that more attention is being paid to soccer this week since the Women’s World Cup Tournament is being played in France.
The increase in the camp’s participation reflects the rising number of athletes in Fairbanks’ boys and girls programs.
The Panther boys will have approximately 30 players during the 2019 fall campaign.
As such, Fairbanks should be able to put together a full junior varsity schedule, according to Humphrey.
Spain said there are 36 girls currently signed up for his program.
“We may start the season with about 30, of which 13 are going to be freshmen,” he said.
“We are going to be able to field a junior varsity girls team for the first time and that’s going to be a big boost to our program.”
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