With safety in mind, the Vancouver Whitecaps have successfully kicked off their youth soccer camps this summer. Working closely with Canada Soccer and the club’s medical team, the Whitecaps have developed enhanced health and safety protocols, allowing children to continue to enjoy the sport.
Open to kids age five to 18, camps are taking place all over the Lower Mainland, as well as elsewhere in British Columbia and Alberta, through August until September 4.
Despite the challenges, the club has ensured a safe, fun, and competitive environment for youngsters looking to hone their skills.
“We’ve noticed changes in the way players approach the game, particularly in their vision and awareness,” says Amy Harrison, Girls BMO Academy Centres’ head coach. “Everyone has been asked to be more aware of our actions around each other, and these skills have translated onto the pitch. Players have their head up rather than down a lot more frequently.”
While much has changed, but when it comes to teaching skills, most things have remained intact.
“Our way of coaching remains the same. We focus on developing successful player habits, from vision and awareness to finding space and working on the essential skills (passing, dribbling, turning),” Harrison adds. “Even with players distanced from each other, there is plenty of conversation between them and coaches always communicate how these skills translate to in-game situations.”
Among the changes is the implementation of a safety officer at every location, responsible for monitoring the health and safety of all participants, including adherence to all SafeSport practices and activities. The safety officer also ensures that public health guidelines are being followed, including hand sanitizing and physical distancing policies.
The camps ensure no contact and plenty of space between players, with communication with parents taking place via Zoom calls.
“Technology has been vital to hold our team and community together,” says Harrison. “We speak daily with coaches all across Canada, discussing what’s working, where we can improve, what feedback we receive from parents and players. Before every session, we schedule Zoom calls with parents to talk through the day, our health and safety procedures, the Code of Conduct and best practice for the day of camp.
“In those areas we couldn’t run in-person sessions, our Virtual Academy provides them with the opportunity for tailored development plans from our head coaches on a weekly basis. Our coverage across the country is growing each day.”
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