A group of area kids got a good lesson in European-style soccer at a camp in Edgewood last week. The camp was put on by East Mountain Soccer in conjunction with the American Youth Soccer Organization, or AYSO.

Three traveling coach-instructors from U.K. International Soccer—who are conducting camps all over the country—worked closely with about 35 kids, ages 4 to 14, at the former Edgewood Elementary School from May 30 through June 2 with an optional skills-specific clinic last Saturday.

Isabel Armstrong and Kyle Marotta vying for possession of the ball during last week’s AYSO soccer camp in Edgewood. Photo by G. Demarest.

“The purpose is to work on fundamentals while teaching the kids some new skills with a European focus,” said Matt Dolan, one of the instructors who is from Scotland. “The European way of looking at soccer is different, there’s more emphasis on balance and footwork.”

Co-instructor Vanessa McDougall echoed Dolan’s viewpoint.

“A lot of it is agility, so we’re trying to help the kids learn some of that,” she said. “Most of the young kids we see in America think soccer is just about running around and punting, you know, kicking the ball, and there’s much more to it.”

One of the other instructors, Sophie Wilding, who’s also from England, said she enjoyed how much the kids improved over the course of the camp. “Like these two,” she said, pointing at two youngsters speeding past her. “They couldn’t even shoot and now they can. Seeing their progress is really great.”

One of the participants, 12-year-old Linnea Freymiller, said she had fun at the camp, adding, “I got a lot better at my soccer.”

Freymiller’s mother, Joyce, said the camp was very beneficial. “It’s been great,” she said. “They’re learning, they’re getting to know other kids who like soccer, and they love coach Matt, he’s funny.”

Edgewood was the first stop of the nationwide tour, and all three coach-instructors stayed at host families—the parents of kids participating in the camp.

McDougall and Wilding stayed with a family in Sandia Park, and said that this was their first trip to New Mexico.

“It’s very different,” Wilding said. “It’s very country.”

“We didn’t really know what to expect but it’s been really nice,” McDougall said. “This is the America you think of—lots of nice country folk.”

Rebecca Armstrong, who is the former regional commissioner for AYSO-East Mountain Soccer, hosted coach-instructor Dolan.

“The kids are so receptive to the coaches, they really look up to them,” Armstrong said. Her 14-year-old daughter, Isabel, participated in the camp and said she learned a lot, adding, “It’s really cool to bond with the coaches—it’s a nice opportunity.”

AYSO will hold another similar camp beginning in late July at Los Vecinos Community Center in Tijeras.