Park City Soccer Camps return with new programming and expected World Cup fever
The Park City Soccer Camps, run by coach Randy Farris through Park City Recreation, are returning for their 39th season, and this year, the former St. Mary’s College coach and longtime camp director said it’s adapting to its players.
Farris said because of the high percentage of returning campers, the camp will split its programming in two to provide a more advanced schedule for experienced footballers.
“We’re going to be dividing up and doing things that are – I hate using the word, but – instructional,” he said. “And for those with less experience, we will have activities appropriate with that level.”
More advanced players will be put in a group with an emphasis on different soccer skills, including ball control, passing, dribbling and shots.
“We will be focusing on one skill per day,” Farris said. “So, I guess you would call it more like drills.”
Newcomers will get the same programming the camps have always offered.
“The emphasis is much more on learning how fun soccer can be as opposed to (being) instructional,” he said. “There is almost a passage of soccer knowledge just by default – you’re gaining experience and comfort and confidence entering into the soccer world.”
Activities include keepaway and shooting games, and a game Farris calls “Destroyer,” in which players dribble the ball in a set area and try to knock everyone else’s ball out while protecting their own.
“There’s no prizes, so it’s not super disappointing for those that get knocked out, and we move from game to game to game like that,” he said.
The 2018 World Cup in Russia will coincide with all three camps, adding an extra level of enthusiasm.
“These kids are soccer savvy, that’s what I’ll say about the PC kids,” Farris said. “They are super into the World Cup. They know about the countries and their players.”
As for Farris’ personal preference, he said he is less interested in competitive soccer than sharing his love for the game and giving kids something positive to do.
But he does have a soft spot for Peru this year.
In addition to running the camps, Farris is the founder and president of Here for Kids International, a nonprofit that brings teams of athletes – mostly from colleges – to run soccer camps in Peru, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.
On trips to those countries, Farris brings a 100-pound bag of donated goods, the most coveted of which are cleats.
“We can’t get enough cleats,” he said, adding that, because of their price, good cleats are a luxury most cannot afford in the places he visits.
The supplies give the players the necessary equipment to enjoy the game, while the teams that accompany Farris run camps that focus on developing a love for the game, and at the same time, expose the camp counselors to a broader world.
Though he won’t likely watch much of the World Cup outside of what he sees with the Park City kids, Farris said he can’t help but root for Peru, which the nonprofit has recently started visiting.
“They are so excited about making the World Cup,” he said of the South American nation’s soccer fans. “I caught a little bit of that, too.”
And he said that enthusiasm is exactly what the camps, both in Park City and abroad, are all about.
“What matters is getting these kids mobilized and participating in something they are excited about,” he said.
During the 2014 World Cup, Farris remembers Park City campers jumping into the air with each shot on-goal, pumping their fists in excitement.
“It brings that enthusiasm to a heightened pitch, and when they take that onto the field you can just imagine,” he said. “They become Messi in their own minds.”
The Park City Soccer Camps are for kids between the ages of 7 and 15, and will run from 9 a.m. to noon from June 18-22, June 25-29, and July 9-13. For more information on Park City Soccer Camps or to sign up for one of the upcoming camps, go to http://www.parkcity.org/departments/park-city-marc-recreation/recreation-programs/camps-week-by-week. For more information on Here for the Kids go to hereforkids.org
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The inaugural season may have ended in a loss, but the Park City Red Wolves saw a lot of progress throughout that leads to a bright future.