English language Sunday football camps in Amsterdam
Two expat parents have started up Sunday football camps with an international flavour for young up and coming players.
Even though the weather has been cold and wet the past couple of months it hasn’t been enough to dampen the spirits of a group of determined young footballers. Close on forty English-speaking expat children gathered at NFC Football Club in Amstelveen to attend Sunday football camps in March and April. The camps are an initiative of two expat parents, Morgan Beaumont and Ashleigh Whitaker, who have children who play football at the club. So how did they come up with this idea? Ashleigh Whitaker explains:
“Our son, Sebastian, who is bilingual, attended a Dutch football camp last May, hosted by John de Wolf (former Dutch international who played for Wolves in the UK), and he enjoyed it immensely. We mentioned it to a couple of other parents and they all said how much their kids would have loved to have attended, if only it had been in English. We did some research, found some English speaking coaches and word of mouth did the rest.”
Sunday Football Camps are held monthly with a maximum participation ratio of ten children to one coach. Coaches are UEFA and Football Association (UK) certified. They have experience working with children of differing ages and abilities and are native English speakers.
NFC is conveniently placed for the International School of Amsterdam and is only a short drive down the Beneluxbaan for parents with children at the British School. There is ample free street parking at the club.
The host club to four English speaking teams who participate in competitive KNVB league football alongside the Dutch teams, NFC hosts two English F teams (for children aged 6 – 8) and two English E teams (9 – 11 year olds).
“The club aims to host further English speaking teams, including an all-girls team in the coming 2010/2011 season,” adds Whitaker.
The football season runs from September through to May, and training is provided by volunteer English speaking coaches on Wednesday afternoons.
“The weekly training is great because the kids take part regularly and have the opportunity to play matches every weekend,” says one of the coaches, “But in terms of technical skills sometimes they need an extra boost, and this is something that a trained coach has the ability to offer in the Sunday camp setting. A trained coach has an eye for details and can provide more technical guidance to a player in a longer session than a volunteer is able to do in an hour a week.”
At the end of the camps, each child receives a certificate of attendance, drinks and refreshments provided by various sponsors and hopefully the enthusiasm to keep playing the game.
“Our aim is to let the children have fun, give them an opportunity to enjoy themselves with their friends, while learning a new skill or improving on skills they already have,” says Whitaker, coordinator for the Sunday camps. “Expat children often don’t have the opportunity to play sports or take part in extra-curricular activities outside of their school environment.”
The camps are not ability-based, says Whitker, “although children are split into groups depending on their prior experience, so perhaps for the child who hasn’t had the opportunity to play football before, or hasn’t taken part in a club sport, their experience is likely to be more rewarding because they obtain more one on one guidance due to the trainer-player ratio.”
The camps also give children from the different schools “the opportunity to meet each other, not to mention giving mom and dad a couple of hours off on a Sunday to have coffee, read the paper or just relax while their kids get some exercise,” she adds.
The future for the camps and English Language children’s football in the Netherlands in general looks good under the enthusiastic management of Whitaker and Beaumont. In addition to plans for an Academy style event running on Sundays for regular players and more monthly Sunday camps, they intend to offer three day camps in the summer on an intensive basis, either as an introduction to playing at a club or as a stand-alone event.
Whitaker and Beaumont have a mutal goal "to get kids moving, get them to enjoy the sport, allow them to have fun in a receptive environment and to give them the opportunity to take part in the kind of events they would have taken part in, if they were in their home environment.”
The training on Wednesdays for competitive football within the Dutch KNVB league is also being transformed with volunteer students from the International School of Amsterdam (ISA) helping at training as part of a mentoring programme. The organisers are proud of the links they’ve forged with the ISA.
“Participation in the ISA’s community service programme started this year with two students as a pilot project and has been expanded with an additional eight students volunteering for the 2010/2011 season. The idea behind the mentoring programme is to use sports as a tool for teenagers to learn and develop in an active environment while giving something back to the community at large.”
For further information on English language football at NFC, to sign up for Sunday Football Camps, or if you would like a Sunday Football Camp in your area, please contact Ashleigh by phone at 065 0503484, email firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively, watch Expatica’s Events pages for more information.
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