With the MLB season grinding on, NBA summer league action wrapping up, and NFL training camps just beginning, 50 area children spent two hours learning how to play The Beautiful Game Sunday at Harvard’s Soldier Field Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium.
Brightly colored cones and goals of all sizes littered the FieldTurf pitch as five coaches from one of Europe’s most celebrated soccer clubs, Liverpool F.C., spent two hours under an evening sun sharing their soccer wisdom with young children from Boston, Allston, and Cambridge.
Words of encouragement and advice voiced with varied British accents jumped out over the fluctuating babble of the children ages six and up enjoying their time in the sun. The instructors taught the kids how to dribble, pass, and execute a throw-in. Then, they set them up to play a series of matches.
“We’ve realized that soccer isn’t the number one sport in America,” Liverpool Community Coach Forbes Duff said. “So our aim is to try and get the kids involved in the session touching the ball, getting some basic skills. Like any sport, if you are actively involved and you are playing then that helps with some things like obesity, fitness. It’s also good for you to do physical activity and be active.”
“Our real aim while we are in the States is just for the kids to enjoy it and want to play soccer more, and hopefully gain some little skills they can take with them to camps and when the play elsewhere,” Duff said.
Duff said that Harvard invited the team to host a clinic on its field three weeks ago, and that they gladly accepted. During their two-week trip through the US, the group also taught soccer to at-risk youth as well as blind and deaf children. The coaches also visited a local children’s hospital.
“We are delighted that the Liverpool Foundation agreed to hold a clinic for children who live in our neighboring communities,” said Christine Heenan, Vice President of Harvard Public Affairs & Communications. “Harvard has a strong partnership with Cambridge and Boston, and we are proud to host events like this, which allow our neighbors to learn from the exceptional people who often visit our campus.”
The club is here for a match against AS Roma at Fenway Park on Wednesday. The team practiced at Harvard’s Soldier Field in advance of the competition.
When the coaches aren’t in America, some teach similarly-aged children in after-school programs while others work for the club’s youth academy that has produced some of Liverpool’s top talents such as Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard.
—Staff writer Jacob D. H. Feldman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org