The Hewlett Lawrence Soccer Club has been holding a summer camp at Hewlett Elementary School to help prepare young local players for the coming fall season. The camp is split by age with pre-kindergarten through first-graders practicing on Wednesday and second- through fifth-graders practicing on Thursdays.
Paul Kelshaw, the program’s Director of Coaching learned the game while growing up in England. Kelshaw wants the kids to learn and hone their technique, but is most concerned with making sure the kids can enjoy the game as they play. “We’re really just trying to replicate the environment of the playground,” he said, “something that’s lost within the youth today.”
While working with the second-graders Kelshaw spent the first portion of the practice working on passing. On a cooler day they may run different drills, but learning the difference between one- and two-touch passes is important and keeps the kids from running around too much on a hot July day.
Kelshaw is assisted is David Ramirez, who played for the soccer club, and will be taking his skills to Queens College this fall after two years at Nassau Community College. Ramirez, 20, has been coaching kids for four years, and hopes to be a physical education teacher after he graduates. Kindergarten to high school is his age range, but has an affinity for working with the younger children. “Around the ages of six to eight,” he said. “I like working with them because I feel that’s where you start to see them develop and you see if they excel in the sport or not.”
Practice ended after a brief game where the kids got to put what they learned into action. After the game a very out-of-breath Ryan Silva, 7, said the reason he liked soccer was that, “Your teammates just help you a lot, they help you score a lot.”
Beau Alix-Barro, also 7, said he wants to keep playing and that he thinks this camp is “probably” helping him improve. Adding, “[I like] being goalie, even though I’m not very good at it.”
He better watch out, because Roddy Perard, 6, loves soccer and said his favorite part of playing is, “When the goalie isn’t looking and you can score a goal.”
After watching Kelshaw and Ramirez coaching, you have to believe that the soccer club is helping to ensure that the children are having fun learning the game. In addition, to these practices the club holds free pick up games on Tuesdays at Hewlett Elementary from 6:30 p.m. until dark.
“We’re trying to give the game back to the players, and explain to them it’s a game where you have to think for yourself and make your own decisions,” Kelshaw said, “and I guess in the long run trying to teach life lessons through soccer.”