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Budding soccer stars of future

July 11 - 17, 2007
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Gulf Weekly Budding soccer stars of future

THE next A’ala Hubail could be learning the trick of his trade in one of the soccer schools aiming to identify the island’s most promising young footballers.

Thirty-one boys and girls of the British School of Bahrain were recently proud recipients of their ‘Soccer Star Challenge’ certificates signed by former England international midfielder Sir Trevor Brooking.
The youngsters, aged 11 to 16, were part of a Football Association coaching camp organised by their school football coach Dermot Toal, a former semi-professional football player.
The coaching camp trained the youngsters in basic techniques with the aim of improving their all-around skills.
At the end of the 16-hour camp, spread over eight weeks, the participants were tested on their abilities to head the ball, shoot, dribble, pass and kick. The scores they earned was a reflection of their levels of expertise.
Mr Toal said: “After the camp we encourage the players to practice their skills at home and join clubs where they can play as part of a team.
“In the UK all professional clubs and soccer schools use similar summer camps to spot new talent. A maximum of six stars can be awarded to a participant and those who get five or more are pushed forwards for a trial.
“Coaches send talented youngsters to leading clubs such as Reading or Manchester United for internship from where they are trained and could get to become professional players.”
An FA-qualified coach, Mr Toal, was spotted in a similar camp in the UK. His selection helped him earn an apprenticeship at Premiership newcomers Reading FC and a scholarship to study sports physiology at St Mary’s University College in London.
A newcomer to Bahrain, he finds that there is great interest in football among the young here.
“We had a waiting list for the FA coaching camp at school. I am very excited about the new facilities that will be available from next year which will help me organise separate camps for students from different year groups,” he said.
Tariq Kioumji, 11, a proud recipient of four stars – the highest number gained at the camp – said: “Football is my favourite sport. I love to score, dribble around and simply play the game.”
His classmate Antony Kramer, 11, said, “What I don’t like is losing and getting scolded for smashing windows when I practice!”
Marya Zia, 11, another Year 6 student added: “I learned a lot of skills at the camp and I enjoy playing the game at school.”
The coaching camp encouraged the senior school students to organise a friendly match at the British Club against the Bahrain School girls. Player Johana Franz, 15, said: “It was exciting to play and cool to do something different.”
 Her friend Holly Groeneveld, agreed: “The game helped us show our skills and everything we had learnt at the camp.”
Most importantly the camp told us that we can play too, said the girls.
The children are this week cheering on Bahrain as the kingdom competes in the Asian Cup and hope A’ala Hubail will be as successful as he was in 2004 when as top-scorer his was dubbed the “Shevchenko of Asia” after the ace forward and European Footballer of the Year.
Antony Kramer, Jack Taylor, Hamza Aizer, Devin Karan, Daniel Repuri, Daanyal Waheed, Marya Zia, Luke Warren, Sheridan Tracy, Viran Daluwatte, Zakir Mahmood, Tariq Kioumji, Kieran Sabberton, Sophie Tarif, Gianmarco Jurkiewicz, Ali Jasem, Ben Rodney, Talal Akbar, Tamara Eggeling, Mathew Davies, Thomas Blake, Ryan Jones, Tory Tracy, Kerry Eggeling, Kunal Kewalram, Johana Franz, Diana Akkawi, Keshia Smith, Layla Kioumji, Holly Groeneveld and Alexandra Bulley received their Soccer Star Challenge certificates on the prize day at the British School of Bahrain.

By Anasuya Kesavan
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