Culture, sport exchanged

Former national team pro gets a lesson out of coaching kids camp

Andrea Neil

Andrea Neil

A group of summer camp kids got soccer tips from a former pro this week.

“I think they’re very fortunate,” said camp organizer Scott Sam. “I never got to have someone of [this] calibre of play show me some of their skills.”

Teens in the NIȽ/TU,O summer camp learned drills from Andrea Neil, a former  player with the women’s Canadian national team who played in four World Cup games.

Sam and co-organizer Cedar Shackelly used their personal connections to get in touch with Neil, who agreed to coach the group of 13- to 18-year-olds.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for me,” Neil said. “The kids think it’s about me coming out to teach them, but it’s also about them teaching me. We’re all sharing our experiences of the game.

“I’ve always believed the soccer ball binds people together no matter where you are in the world. It gives people a common way to learn with each other.”

Neil led the group through drills at Centennial Park on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 10 and 11.

“I always like to mix both sport and culture into the camps because it’s a good way to keep the kids engaged, but it’s also a good way to teach them about their culture,” Sam said.