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Soccer camp participants with coaches Eric Odhiambo and Chris Hodges.
Soccer camp participants with coaches Eric Odhiambo and Chris Hodges. - Craig Wallace

Young Happy Valley-Goose Bay soccer players had an amazing opportunity and experience recently training and participating in skill development with a group of coaches that are part of a club that finished ninth in the English Premier League last season and were the Premier League champions in 2015/16.

Coaches from the Leicester City Football Club were in Happy Valley-Goose Bay all of last week conducting their annual Pro Soccer Camp.

This was the 10th annual Leicester City Pro Soccer Camp with just over 100 children between the ages of six and 14 who are registered with the HVGB Minor Soccer Association taking part in the sessions held at the Mealy Mountain Collegiate soccer fields.

Eric Odhiambo, Leicester City FC Coach and Ryder Fox, a soccer camp participant.
Eric Odhiambo, Leicester City FC Coach and Ryder Fox, a soccer camp participant.

The Soccer Camp is managed by Chris Hodges, who is part of the Leicester City FC coaching department. He brings along another five English FA accredited coaches with him to assist in the facilitation of the week-long activities.

Hodges told The Labradorian that this was his tenth year here organizing the camps, and during this time he has built up a very strong relationship with Trevor Paine, co-President of the Happy Valley-Goose Bay Minor Soccer Association.

“Trevor is a big reason and a big push behind getting us here," Hodges said. "It's not easy to get to a place like Goose Bay with all the travel that you need to do, but he is a sound guy and everything he does is for the kids and for the good of the kids.”

With over 100 children from a wide age range and skill level, this provides its own logistic challenges in making sure that all of the participants get the most benefit out of their week-long coaching sessions.

“There is a mixture of abilities and ages among the kids attending, but it’s an opportunity for them to get out, have a bit of fun and develop their soccer skills,” remarked Hodges.

Hodges said that three of the coaches who were here with him are all full-time employees with Leicester City FC and work exclusively with the junior academy programs. One of them, Eric Odhiambo had previously played professionally with the club, along with professional stints with Scottish Premier League club, Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Turkish first division club, Denizlispor.

In the training session the Labradorian attended, Odhiambo was certainly a favourite among the participating children.

Paine said the children were amazing last week, coping with the hot and humid weather, and bursts of pouring rain.

Next month, a group of local players will be heading over to England for the bi-annual UK Soccer Trip hosted by Leicester City FC. Every two years players from Happy Valley-Goose Bay make this two-week trip to England and have the opportunity to experience the inner sanctum of the Football Club.

“The kids that come across to the UK for the soccer trip probably get to experience more than what most English kids do," Hodges said. "I am fortunate with my links and contacts with the club that the kids will be attending the Leicester versus Liverpool match and they will be on the pitch before the start of the game holding the ‘big’ Leicester City Shirt in the middle of the ground.

“They will also get a tour of the Clubs training ground and will most likely get the chance to meet some of the players."

Paine wanted to give special thanks to Brad Butler, the Town of HVGB fire chief for bringing down the fire truck and soaking the children on the hot days, along with Pizza Delight, Subway and the HVGB Rotary Club for their support of the soccer camp.

Hodges summed up his time here in Goose Bay by saying: “We got numbers, we are made to feel very welcome and the kids are very well-behaved. We like the appreciation we get from the children. Sometimes as much as what we give as coaches we look for something back from the kids, and we get that here, I guess that’s why its my tenth year back here.”

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