COUNTING down the days until school is finished for the year is not the only thing that gets Dundalk children excited about the summer break.
That’s because the summer break means soccer camps and more importantly, the return of the Barry Kehoe Soccer Camp at Oriel Park.
Endorsed and organised by those at Dundalk FC, the popular camp is now in its fourth year, going from strength to strength since its creation in 2007.
In an era where value for money is certainly important, the camps represent a terrific opportunity for children to get involved with the beautiful game.
One man who certainly knows his fair share about camps is current Community Coach, Dean Arrowsmith. The Dundalk man has spent time in the United States and served time with the FAI overseeing camps, so he knows what makes a good camp.
“I’ve working for the last year and a half as Community Coach for the club”, said Dean.
“Basically my job is go out and get into the schools to help promote the game and the club.
“Obviously during the summer, the Barry Kehoe camps is the main thing for the kids and we try to highlight that as much as possible.”
Over the four years, Arrowsmith has seen the success of the camps first hand as they grow in size every year, with this year expected to be the biggest ever, with three dates in place.
“I think this is the fourth summer that the camp has been running up here. Normally we do them in the summer time, along with one at Halloween. To date, it has been very successful, which is why we have gone with three dates this year.
“From July 11-15, July 18-22 and August 8-12, so we have three camps there to help accommodate people who may be away on holidays or cannot make one of the camps.”
This is Arrowsmith’s third year of being involved with the camps and he likens it to the professionalism associated with the FAI’s camps.
“This is my third year being part of it and every year, it just seems to get better and better. It’s the closest thing to the FAI camps that I have seen in terms of professionalism.
“The coaches are all top coaches, people we have worked with before that we get in. We have to make sure that we have worked with them before, people from the likes of O’Fiaich, DkIT, the students there. We try to get the best possible coaching that we can.
“At the end of the week, you get to meet the players and the coaches which is a big thing for some of the kids.”
At the camps, kids get to enjoy something different on a daily basis rather than face the same drills every day. It’s the variety of things that keeps them interested.
“Every day is a little bit different. On the Monday, you could be working on a passing drill and Tuesday, it’s dribbling. We like to go alongside the FAI’s model where every day is a different day, but a set theme and topic on that day. Then towards the end of the week, you have fun days and recap what you have done during the week.”
One thing that Arrowsmith is keen on is getting as many players as possible to the camps, reminding parents that kids do not have to be superstars to enrol in the camps.
“It caters for every level of player. You don’t have to be Ronaldinho or a budding Daniel Kearns to come to the camps.
“If you are only starting out, then they are the kids we want, to get them started in the game, introduce them to the club and get them playing football.
“It’s a great time to start playing and for them to meet the likes of Daniel Kearns, Peter Cherrie, Marc Griffin etc, along with Ian Foster and Darius Kierans as well, it’s good for the kids to get info and feedback from these type of people.”
Along with the training at the camp, the kids receive a fantastic Umbro kit, Dundalk FC season ticket and much more, making it a incredible value for money camp.
“The kit this year is lovely. It’s the first year that we have managed to get something similar to the FAI’s camp gear, which is made by Umbro.
“It’s fantastic gear, great value for money and they get a free season ticket from the club and football, amongst other things.”
Please contact Dundalk FC for more details on the camp.