Enthusiastic students take part in a development soccer practice. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Alberni’s development soccer program doubles in size

Development practice had hardly started, but there were already more than 30 players out on the turf—kicking, passing, dribbling and full of energy. The coaches called the practice to start and broke the kids up into smaller groups. The next hour and fifteen minutes were well-organized and energetic. Practice included a wide variety of drills followed by challenging games. The kids stay engaged the entire time and were having a blast. When practice ended, the field was cleaned up quickly by the whole group, and the evening was finished off with an encouraging pep talk from the coaches.

Alberni Valley Youth Soccer Development was started in 2016 by head coach Travis Cross. The program is run by nine volunteer coaches and the U9-U12 players are split into two groups . It offers keen soccer players the chance to learn new skills and hone existing ones.

Coaches enthusiastically teach kids the fundamentals of the game in a positive, high energy and team-oriented environment. The group’s primary goal is skill development through practice, inter-squad games and occasional matches against other Island teams.

Everyone is welcome to be a member of Soccer Development, but there is a catch. The program is geared towards kids who want to play hard and develop their skills. Players are required to show up ready to listen, learn and try their best. They are expected to commit to a solid hour and fifteen minute practice each week.

This year, the Development program was fortunate to be sponsored by Brad Berry Enterprises. With Brad’s help, players received their own embroidered team jacket—creating a sense of pride and camaraderie among the players. Berry’s sponsorship has also facilitated the the opportunity to have special practices led by well known guest coaches such as Kevin Lindo, head coach of the Vancouver Island Whitecaps Academy.

Over a 10 week session, major progress can be seen in all of the players. They have a deeper understanding of the game, know their position on the field and work well with their teammates. Most of all, they are having fun and developing a passion for soccer.

Feedback from both parents and players about the program has been overwhelmingly positive. When asked what she thought about development soccer, U9 player Amelia said, “It was fun, it helped me improve and I just really liked it!”

Participation has doubled in the past year to more than 34 kids and is expected to keep growing next season. Development coaches continue to seek other fun opportunities for the group for the upcoming Fall 2018 session.

More info about the next session will be available this summer. If you have a player who is interested and would like to learn more, please contact head coach Travis Cross at tcross4@hotmail.com or team manager Angela Harvey at angie.wlsolutions@gmail.com.

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