Englishman teaches Franklin youths about soccer

Published 10:12 am Friday, July 19, 2013

FRANKLIN—Every afternoon this week, the World Cup match between England versus Germany is taking place at the YMCA.

Soccer camp coach Will Harris works on a trick move with 6-year-old Evelyn Clark. -- CAIN MADDEN|TIDEWATER NEWS

Soccer camp coach Will Harris works on a trick move with 6-year-old Evelyn Clark. — CAIN MADDEN|TIDEWATER NEWS

It’s part of the British Challenger Soccer Camp, and after doing drills the children, 6-13, group off into teams to see who can win the World Cup in Franklin.

“That is a good bit of fun,” said camp coach Will Harris, who is from Bridlington, United Kingdom. “It is a chance to promote the international game, and the kids enjoy it after a day of work in the camp.”

Harris has been traveling all over this region this summer, and this week he has been in Franklin.

“It has been brilliant,” Harris said of Franklin. “Everyone is so nice here, and myself having a different accent, people will come up and chat. That’s not like back home at all. It has been an experience with a different lifestyle.”

James Chambers, 7, said he has enjoyed the experience.

“I love soccer because I am really good at it,” Chambers said. “He has been doing some tricks and showing us how to do them.”

As for Coach Harris, he likes him.

“He’s cool,” Chambers said. “He’s a funny guy.”

For 6 year-old Evelyn Clark, this camp has been her first experience with soccer.

“I really like soccer because I like kicking the ball and stuff,” Clark said. “I have learned to play soccer this week.”

She also thought that the coach was “silly,” but that “He teaches me about soccer. I learned to do the double scissors.”

One reason why he was called silly was because today was Dress the Coach Day, where the children brought the craziest items they could find to put on Harris. His outfit included a Nightmare on Elm Street glove, complete with plastic blades, and a Marvel’s Thor helmet.

“I don’t normally dress this way,” he said with a laugh. “I’m always scared of this day because the items become more and more ridiculous each week. It is embarrassing but it is good fun too.”

Harris had never been to the United States before, but a friend recommended the program to him.

“He said he had such an amazing experience, and he recommended that I go over there during the summer,” Harris said. “Working with the kids is a brilliant activity. It has been good to experience the American lifestyle, as well.”

While in the country, he has stayed with host families. In Franklin, he has stayed with Laura and Neil Clark.

“You are nervous at first about staying with people you don’t know, but it becomes one of the best parts of the experience,” Harris said. “They are a really nice family, and I hope to stay in touch with them.”

The best part, he said, is working with the kids.

“It’s brilliant to see them develop,” Harris said. “They don’t even seem like the same kid from the beginning to the end of the week.”

Niko Gamboni, 10, said he came to learn more about playing.

“I’ve been into soccer for some time, and I wanted to learn what the British experience was like,” Gamboni said. “I wanted to learn some new soccer moves, and I have learned quite a lot.”

Mia Gamboni, 13, who plays soccer at her school, Southampton Academy, said she has learned a lot about soccer, but another neat aspect for her was the cultural experience.

“I think it is cool that someone came all the way from England to teach soccer to kids in America,” she said. “It is cool having someone with a British accent around, he uses a lot of different words.”

At the end of the practice, England ended up winning the World Cup with two goals.

“We try to make them better players, but a big part of it is the fun,” Harris said. “We want it to be fun, and we feed off of what the kids seem to enjoy the most.”