Young soccer players in the city received some added coaching this week with a week-long clinic put on by Gary Murray from the Rangers Academy in Scotland.
Murray, who has been coaching approximately 20 soccer players aged 10 to 14 while in the city, explained he and others from the Academy travel extensively providing clinics, noting he himself was recently in Taiwan, and is now in Yorkton.
Murray noted two other coaches from the Academy are in Calgary doing clinics right now.
The approach taken at the five-day clinic is to focus on particular skills through morning sessions, and then to reinforce what the young players have learned with a series of scrimmages on smaller fields through the afternoon.
For example, the first day of the camp focused on one-versus-one play, said Murray who is currently Football Coach at University of Glasgow.
Tuesday the morning session worked on passing skills, Wednesday it was shooting, and Thursday would detail maintaining certain ‘shapes’ positioning while on the field.
So how do players in Yorkton compare with those in Scotland.
Soccer “it’s our main sport,” reminded Murray, adding as such “our top athletes player soccer.” He said he appreciates in Canada many of the best athletes will gravitate to hockey which is more popular here.
However, that doesn’t mean the local players are doing well.
“The kids here have been really, really good ... they’ve been exceptional,” he said.
The main difference is likely simple a case of experience, even at a young age.
“Our kids have more access. Back home, all over Europe, they have so much more access to soccer,” said Murray.
Beyond the youngsters learning new things, Murray said he hopes local coaches will continue to use some of the drills he introduced.
“Having some of the coaches come by and watch is great,” said Murray, adding there was an evening session planned where he would work just with local coaches.
A former player himself until an ACL injury, Murray said he loves the game and sharing his knowledge about it.
“There’s so many opportunities in soccer that everybody can play,” he said, adding no matter how big a person is, nor their age, or sex, they can find a place to play the game, and that makes it special.