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Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

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Play Soccer group

Mike Raskys of Play Soccer poses with Sheri Huckleberry, David Carr, Gerard Akindes at Johannesburg Airport in 2009

Play Soccer coaches

Play Soccer coaches in South Africa preparing lesson plans for soccer camp

Play Soccer Team

Ohio University group poses with Play Soccer coaches in South Africa

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African soccer coaches to teach area youth this summer

Camp cost is $45 for children in grades 1-8


Early this summer, area youth will have a unique opportunity to learn soccer from an African perspective when about 40 youth soccer coaches from Ghana, South Africa and Senegal visit Athens.

While in Athens, the coaches will participate in a soccer camp for area youth grades 1-8, June 20-23. The camp will serve as a learning laboratory for the coaches.

The coaches' visit is part of the $225,000 grant-funded program, "Soccer for Education and Cultural Exchange," being administered by a team of Ohio University faculty and administrators.

The OHIO team that will be running the program includes: David Carr, associate professor of recreation and sport pedagogy; Gerard Akindes, technology coordinator for the College of Health Sciences and Professions; Sheri Huckleberry, Department of Recreation and Sport Pedagogy coordinator for the online master's degree in coaching education; Doug Franklin, associate dean for campus recreation; and Andrew Kreutzer, associate professor of sport administration.

Carr coordinates the department's campus-based coaching education program, while Huckleberry coordinates the online coaching education program.

Ohio University's grant partner is PLAY SOCCER Non-Profit International, a year-round, integrated educational curriculum that focuses on health, social, and soccer/football skills. The program teaches children soccer and social skills and addresses health topics like HIV/AIDS, malaria, nutrition, hygiene and clean water.

In Africa, the program will be implemented through PLAY SOCCER Non-profit International, and the PLAY SOCCER network of country organizations.

Carr said the "Coaching the Whole Child" program that will be taught to the coaches is based on the U.S. Youth Soccer National Youth License Program and has been modified to include the unique environments that the young coaches face in their native countries.

"One of the benefits of the model is that it allows participants to play games while they develop their soccer skills," Carr said "It also gives the coaches a chance to teach about health, social life skills and nutrition. Our teaching motto is 'no laps, no lines, no lectures.' If you have six balls, then you can have six games, and everyone gets to play."

During the camp, each coach will conduct 10- to 12-minute teaching sessions with each age group. They also will be asked to develop lesson plans and learn how to progress from one activity to the next. The sessions will be videotaped, critiqued and reviewed by several youth soccer coaching experts who are familiar with the "Coaching the Whole Child" model.

Shortly after securing the grant in 2009, Carr, Akindes and Huckleberry traveled to South Africa to learn more about the PLAY SOCCER program. To watch the African coaches' unique welcome for the Ohio University group, click here*.

Carr, a 2009 recipient of the U.S. Youth Soccer Thomas Fleck Award for Excellence in Coaching Education, said he and his colleagues recognized several weaknesses in the training model being used in the South African PLAY SOCCER initiative.

While their intentions were good, Carr said the African coaches' teaching delivery was flawed. He said the program's participants were taught with a technical instruction approach, which involved a lot of standing around and not enough interaction or participation.

Carr decided that a version of his "Games" coaching model would be a good alternative for this program. The approach allows coaches to gain experience working with children of all ages. It also includes diversity components and a training assessment (video review, personal interviews and photos).

"The coaches will receive lots of practice doing these things and they will find out what works best with each age group," Carr said. "At the end of the training, the coaches will get a certificate of completion."

During their two-week visit to Athens, the African coaches will have time to enjoy some fun activities, including a Copperheads baseball game, a Columbus Crew Major League Soccer game and some sightseeing.

The "Soccer for Education and Cultural Exchange" project also includes a PLAY SOCCER Appalachia component where 10 to 15 young people living in Appalachia can participate in the same training sessions as the African coaches. Carr said details are still being worked out regarding this initiative.

The camp will take place on the football practice fields behind Peden Stadium and costs $45 per child. Each child will receive a T-shirt and soccer ball. For more information about the project or to request an application for the camp, e-mail playsoccer@ohio.edu.

"Soccer for Education and Cultural Exchange" is funded by a 2009 U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' SportsUnited Office grant awarded to Ohio University and PLAY SOCCER Nonprofit International.