Alton Irish SC steps up with October programs
Photo: Pete Hayes | The Telegraph
ALTON — Just when Riverbend soccer moms and dads thought they’d have to forego their children playing park and recreation soccer this fall, the Alton Fighting Irish Soccer club is coming to the rescue.
The club is sponsoring a series of four-week sessions designed to introduce, or re-introduce, soccer to children in a wide array of ages.
“We have received a number if calls from people who have had their rec soccer seasons cancelled because of COVID,” Fighting Irish president Robert Stephan said. “So we came up with something for people who are not necessarily involved in club soccer, but still want to play and have fun.”
They’re calling it “Drills, Skills and Thrills” October Juniors Training and it will encompass a variety of skill levels and ages, beginning with toddlers ages 2 and 3. The other programs run through age 12.
The programs will be held Oct. 10, 17, 24 and 31 on the new artificial turf fields at Gordon Moore Park.
“It sounds pretty young, but it’s when my kids and a lot of kids started learning about soccer,” Stephan said. “The little ones play with a teeny tiny soccer ball and their parents are allowed to assist. It’s not so much about them learning anything detailed, of course. It’s about being around the ball, chasing and running and having fun.”
In fact, the program for the 2 and 3-year-olds is called “Fun Time.” Cost is $45 per participant and it will run from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. each session’.
“They’ll run hard and play for about 45 minutes,” Stephan said. “You’d be surprised how much fun they have and how many learn something about soccer without realizing it.”
The focus for “Fun Time” will be on motor skills and body awareness development and will include interactive games, the use of props to challenge the toddlers mentally and physically. It will also introduce structure, discipline and listening skills.
The other three age group sessions include ‘The Ball” for ages 4 and 5, “The Goal” for ages 6 and 7 and “The Game” for ages 8 through 12.
“Each level gets a little more advanced,” Stephan said. “We think it’s going to be a good thing for kids, parents and for the coaches and players who help.”
“The Ball” sessions for ages 4 and 5 will include a new approach to individual learning focusing on the skills needed to become good players based on how, why, when and where those skills are needed. The fee is $55 per player and sessions will run from 11 am. to 11:55 a.m. each day.
“The Goal” for ages 6 and 7 will bring together skills learned at younger ages and break them down so that learning fundamentals becomes fun. cost is $65 per player and sessions will run from 11 a.m. to 11:55 a.m. each day.
“The Game” sessions for 8- to 12-year-olds is where technical will meet practical. and will concentrate on mastering the four main skills needed for playing soccer – passing, receiving the ball, dribbling and finishing. The fee is $75 for player and sessions will run from noon to 12:55 p.m. each session.
The programs were developed by Jamie Swanner, a Fighting Irish trainer and former St. Louis Ambush player, who also served as an assistant coach at Lewis and Clark Community College.
“Jamie is great with the kids,” Stephan said, “and he has designed the sessions specifically for each age group. He can train everybody. He does a terrific job. t’s all based on their progression. It’ll be very organized.”
Stephan added that Fighting Irish coaches will conduct each session and that some of the club’s players will help as well.
“We’re excited about it,” Stephan said. “Having the new artificial turf fields at Gordon Moore is a case of perfect timing for this.”