Soccer camps to help launch Elite club program

The foundational pieces of the Demopolis Elite Soccer Club will begin falling into place Tuesday, April 2 with camp at the Sports-Plex.

The event, which is set to run from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., will be the first weekly installment of an eight-week session that will feature the coaching acumen of University of West Alabama soccer players and coaches.

“We want to start a club and we need people to help us. We need to use it as sort of a pilot scheme to see how many kids we have,” UWA women’s coach Graeme Orr said.

Orr along with UWA men’s soccer coach Matthew Thorne and a collection of Demopolis citizens have been working on the Demopolis Elite project since the spring of 2012.

“This is kind of practice to see what’s the response of the town and to see numbers on the younger ages and the older ages,” Thorne said. “We’re going to be here to promote soccer in the area. After the eight-week period of the coaches clinic, we’re looking to sit down and see when we will expand and what we’ll do from there.”

The weekly camps will serve two purposes as they will allow young soccer players the chance to hone their skills with high-level coaching while also allowing Demopolis Elite organizers to gauge the interest level and potential age groups for the prospective club.

“If we do this for an eight-week block and we get three or four kids, it’s not going to be very successful,” Orr said. “Right now we have low numbers, so we can’t really start a team straightaway.”

“We’d like to get as much of a turnout as possible each week so we can see if there is an interest level in the community,” Thorne added.

The camps, which are open to boys and girls, will cost $5 each week.

“When you look at the $5, it’s very inexpensive,” Thorne said. “That more or less just covers the gas for the players or whomever is coming to do the coaching and they’re getting top quality coaching. You’re not going to get it any cheaper than that anywhere else.”

Demopolis Elite organizers are hopeful the club will find success in its launch, allowing for the development of the technical skills of participating players, the promotion of the sport in the community and further exposure for the community as a whole.

“We want to get more technical training at an early age for the kids here so that our main goal is in 10 years time that it is more established and we have more kids that are technically-efficient at playing soccer,” Orr said.

“Some players can’t afford to go out of town because it is a lot of travel expense,” Thorne said, pointing to the lack of such club teams in the area. “The fact that you can do it here locally to try and promote the game is only going to be a win-win situation for player who want to play and for trying to develop the game.”

Residual benefits of the club team could potentially include some measure of economic impact should the squad host matches and tournaments against other club teams as well as the more obvious side effects the exercise could have on young players.

“In the long run it can do good because, firstly, it gives kids an activity and we want to get kids more active in the area, physical activity to deal with obesity, diabetes, all these things that are evident in today’s life. Secondly, them coming each week gives them another activity as far as discipline and being part of a club where they’re having to abide by the rules,” Orr explained. “On a larger scale of things, for the city as a whole to have a team, it will hopefully in the long run have a more economic impact for Demopolis.”

The Demopolis Elite camps will begin Tuesday, April 2 at 5:30 p.m. and take place each Tuesday thereafter for an eight-week span.