Kids kick it up a notch in Har­bour Grace

In­door soc­cer pro­gram en­ters 14th year

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cbn­com­pass.ca

Lo­cal soc­cer afi­cionado Don Coombs starts hear­ing it in De­cem­ber.

That’s when young ath­letes around the re­gion start ask­ing him about the Con­cep­tion Bay North in­door mi­nor soc­cer and when they’ll get back in the gym for an­other win­ter ses­sion.

Where Coombs gets the call varies. He might hear it in the lo­cal shop­ping cen­tre or when he vis­its an el­e­men­tary school.

Ei­ther way, they’re look­ing for­ward to get­ting started again.

“The kids are ex­cited to get back in the gym,” he said.

The pro­gram for ath­letes from ages four to 12 is en­ter­ing is 14th sea­son and was started by Coombs, along with Al­bert, Mary and Sarah Pynn and oth­ers.

With an em­pha­sis on hav­ing fun and learn­ing the skills of the game, the in­door pro­gram has its heart in the right place and is grow­ing to new heights this sea­son. This year’s edi­tion has over 100 chil­dren reg­is­tered, which rep­re­sents the high­est num­ber they’ve had since they started over a decade ago.

“I’ve said if we have to look at other hours, we’re go­ing to have to do it,” said Coombs. “I love do­ing it.”

It all started when a group of soc­cer coaches were look­ing to do in the win­ter when the out­door pitches were cov­ered with snow.

“We’re pass­ing on the skills that we’ve learned over the years,” said Coombs.

The pro­gram started in Har­bour Grace Pri­mary and re­mained there un­til the school closed a cou­ple of years ago. Then it moved across the park- ing lot to St. Fran­cis, where its been the last four years.

“We couldn’t do it with­out the school,” said Coombs.

It’s been given rave re­views from pro­vin­cial soc­cer of­fi­cials and it’s primed to keep get­ting bet­ter.

“They’re learn­ing just as much here as they are in big­ger cen­tres,” said Coombs. “We try to make it fun for the play­ers.

“I love to see the kids there.”

Height­en­ing skills

There is a marked dif­fer­ence be­tween play­ing in­door soc­cer and play­ing the game on grass or field turf.

The ball moves faster on the floor and re­quires ath­letes to move their feet even quicker if they want to con­trol it as they run.

Coombs sees this as an ad­van­tage for play­ers hon­ing their skills in the gym dur­ing win­ter. If you can de­velop quick feet in the gym, it’ll only help you when you move out­side.

“I think be­ing in the gym is bet­ter for skill de­vel­op­ment,” said the coach.

Coombs makes sure to sched­ule the dif­fer­ent age groups at vary­ing times from week to week. He doesn’t want the in­door pro­gram to clash with any­thing else the kids might be in­volved in.

One group might be at 10 a.m. one week and be two hours later the fol­low­ing week.

“I don’t want them to have to choose,” he said. “This way they can make it to hockey, make it to dance or any­thing else they do.”

They might be forced to miss an hour of soc­cer a month, but he’d rather that than have them miss some­thing be­cause its sched­uled at the same time.

It’s a com­mu­nity

A line he keeps hear­ing from those out­side the pro­gram is that the num­ber of coaches is ideal for the num­ber of kids they have at any one time.

Those coaches come from the pool of ath­letes who came through the pro­gram and are com­ing back to help out.

It al­lows Coombs and the other coaches more time to spend one-on-one with the play­ers. They’re bound to learn more that way.

“It re­ally is a credit to ev­ery­one in­volved,” he said.

Soc­cer is a sport that con­tin­ues to pick up mo­men­tum around the re­gion, as ev­i­dent by the growth in num­bers in as­so­ci­a­tions like C.B.N. Mi­nor Soc­cer and the C.B.N. Light­ning ev­ery year.

It goes hand-in-hand with the in­creased in­ter­est in the in­door game. With play­ers from Trin­ity Bay and else­where mak­ing the jour­ney to St. Fran­cis, it lends favourably to the no­tion that soc­cer is be­gin­ning to out­rank mi­nor hockey as the sport of choice in Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia.

“It’s a credit to ev­ery­one,” said Coombs. “Soc­cer is a great game when it is played prop­erly.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO/FILE

Don Coombs in­structs a group of ath­letes dur­ing the C.B.N. in­door mi­nor soc­cer sea­son.

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