Fourteen soccer players who participate in the Atmore Area YMCA program, including nine whose job it is to defend their team’s goal, got some valuable, hands-on training on Saturday, April 15.
The young athletes were treated to a mini-clinic that was conducted by University of South Alabama assistant coach Kerry Edwards and two of USA’s imported players, Hannah Godfrey of England and Tiina Trutsi of Estonia.
“We’re here to do just a little fun clinic, have a little fun,” said Edwards, who joined USA’s team last year as the goalkeeper coach, prior to the workshop. “The field players will go with (Godfrey and Trutsi) and work on technical stuff; I’m going to take the ’keepers and do like a ’keeper boot camp.
“I’m going to do the best I can, sort of a crash course. I’ll teach them the most I can in an hour, then bring all of them together for a bit of shooting and play at the end for a little while.”
While the two USA players worked on footwork, dribbling and juggling with fielders Amanda Miller, Noah Casson, Owen Gibson, Nolin Godwin and Colby Lasenby, Edwards and the other nine players headed to the other end of the YMCA soccer fields to work on the technique and finesse required of those charged with stopping opponents from scoring.
Mark Casson, president of Atmore Soccer Inc., basically the booster club for the Y program, said the local youngsters were most lacking in the discipline of keeping goal. The lack of a program at any of the county’s public or private schools further hampers the effort.
“Our goalies are really hampered because we (the adults who coach the teams) don’t really have the experience to train them,” said Casson, who added that he was astounded at the level of cooperation granted by Edwards and the USA program. “None of the local high schools or middle schools has a program. That’s one of our biggest challenges, to keep the kids interested, since there aren’t any school programs.”
“I wanted to do this last year, but I never got around to it,” he explained. “I finally called down there, and their response was so … I was just blown away. She said ‘absolutely’ and named two weekends when they could do it. I said let’s go ahead this weekend.”
Edwards ran, dived onto the ground and otherwise demonstrated everything she asked her young charges to do. She explained that a goalkeeper’s legs and feet are his or her most important body part, although it’s the hands with which they make the saves.
The former University of North Alabama assistant coach agreed that the goalkeeping position was not the easiest in the world to learn. Or to teach.
“I enjoy doing things like this,” she said. “Goalkeeper is a specialized position that not everyone knows how to teach. It’s a hard position to teach, and I want to make sure everyone gets the knowledge, as much as they can know.”