Major League Soccer Camp Scores a Goal in Fruit Cove; Nine Coaches from England Help Campers Sharpen Their Skills

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Byline: terry brown

Except for the scorching heat and humidity, one walking through Plantation Park this week might have thought they were in England rather than Fruit Cove.

English accents rang throughout the park as nine coaches from the United Kingdom guided more than 200 young soccer players through drills, with a hefty dosage of fun, and a lot of hard work to sharpen the campers' newfound skills at the Major League Soccer Camp.

Of the nine coaches, seven are player development officers for Major League Soccer and work with soccer clubs throughout the country, including Creeks Athletic Association Soccer Club. A player development officer is contracted though a club to help them develop and build their soccer program. The Creeks soccer club is one of the fastest growing in the state and has more than 1,600 children signed up for the fall soccer season that gets under way in August.

Two of the coaches in the camp, Rob Oakley and Tom Feenan, were assigned to the club last spring. Oakley is set to return for the coming season where he will continue to work with players and coaches to develop their knowledge and skills.

"We are the largest MLS camp in Florida and one of the largest camps in the United States," Creeks camp director Lisa West said. "This is the seventh year we've had the camp here in Fruit Cove, and every year it continues to grow -- as does our club."

All of the coaches are in their 20s, and each brings a lot of personality to the camp. Each day of the week has a different theme. Tuesday's "talent day" brought out campers' more expressive side. Wednesday was "wacky day," where campers could be seen sporting spiked-hair and very colorful and creative soccer clothes for the day.

According to the campers, they are all looking forward to today's "water day," which will include what's sure to be some exciting water-gun duels.

In addition to the fun, the campers are learning skills from professional players who bring European soccer experience and knowledge to kids in America, Alfie Dickenson said. The London-based coach has been in the United States since April and will be working at a soccer club in Connecticut after the series of summer camps wraps up in two weeks. …