World Cup soccer camp in St. Paul has global feel

8:32 PM, Jun 23, 2010   |    comments
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World Cup soccer camp at Macalester College

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A soccer camp at Macalester College has tapped into World Cup mania in a way that gets middle school students to think globally about the biggest sport on the planet.

"It's hard for a lot of kids to watch soccer on an international level because it doesn't get covered much in the United States," camp director Danny Calderon told KARE Wednesday, "And we're trying to spark interest and really get kids involved."

The Macalester senior spent a large part of his childhood in Spain, where his father worked for a Minnesota based insurance company.  Once he returned to the U.S. Calderon played for the St. Paul Blackhawks soccer club.

"In Spain it's the number one sport, and it's what everybody watches.  The passion that people have for the sport is on a different level."

He set up the week-long camp with the help of a grant from the Institute for Global Citizenship on the Macalester campus. In keeping with the international mindset, the camp's clocks were set to South Africa's time zone.

The boys and girls at the camp wear jerseys representing that day's match-ups in the World Cup and learn about those countries and the international stars they've produced. During matches they played as those nations.

"Most people in the world play it. And there's less physical contact than in American football and rugby," camp student Zak Hussein remarked.

"It's better and more fun, because you can't use your hands and it's a challenge."

The students spend most of their time on the field learning basic passing and dribbling skills,  but they also get to watch World Cup action on live web feeds. On Wednesday morning the soccer campers watched as the U.S. survived the threat of elimination by defeating Algeria 1-0 with a goal just two minutes before time expired.

"When Landon Donovan made that goal for the U.S. everybody was screaming and jumping on each other!" young Hussein said.

"One of the staff named Mark was carrying kids so it was a really happy moment!"

(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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