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Vandenberg youth participate in British run soccer camp

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --  A coach with the Challenger Sports Soccer Camp here gives instruction to a group of children Friday. (U.S. Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Heather Shaw)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A coach with the Challenger Sports Soccer Camp here gives instruction to a group of children Friday. (U.S. Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Heather Shaw)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A coach with the Challenger Sports Soccer Camp here gives instruction to a group of children Friday. (U.S. Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Heather Shaw)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A coach with the Challenger Sports Soccer Camp here gives instruction to a group of children Friday. (U.S. Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Heather Shaw)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --  A coach with the Challenger Sports Soccer Camp here gives instruction to a group of children Friday. (U.S. Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Heather Shaw)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A coach with the Challenger Sports Soccer Camp here gives instruction to a group of children Friday. (U.S. Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Heather Shaw)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --  A coach with the Challenger Sports Soccer Camp here jumps across rows of soccer balls Friday. (U.S. Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Heather Shaw)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A coach with the Challenger Sports Soccer Camp here jumps across rows of soccer balls Friday. (U.S. Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Heather Shaw)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The British are coming! The British are coming! The British are ... already here. 

No, this isn't a scene from the Revolutionary War with Paul Revere's famous battle cry. A team of seven British men are staying on Vandenberg to run a soccer camp for children. 

The week long soccer camp, July 21-25, run by the Challenger Sports Corporation, brings children from base together with soccer players from the United Kingdom. 

"Approximately 500 British Soccer coaches are selected by Challenger's United Kingdom based staff, from over a thousand potential candidates who are all football association licensed coaches, but more importantly they love children and understand how we teach new skills, build confidence and have fun all at the same time," according to the Challenger Sports Corporation Web site, 

The Challenger program was presented to Vandenberg last year and, with an overwhelming response, was brought back again this year. 

"With soccer season approaching in August, this summer soccer camp is a great way for children to learn the skills necessary to succeed and gain the most from their local soccer team," said Master Sgt. Rob Bedell, 381st Training Support Squadron and Vandenberg's Challenger Sports Soccer Camp coordinator. 

The children, ages 3 through 17, can opt to spend anywhere from an hour to an entire day with their British soccer coaches. 

"This program is not free," said Sergeant Bedell. "For a full day, it costs $150 and decreases in price depending on ages and the length you chose." 

Not only do the children get to train with experienced, international coaches, but some get to live with them for the week, too. 

"Each coach is sponsored by local families in the area, over 99 percent stayed on base, to live in their home for the week," said Sergeant Bedell. "This is sometimes the most fun of it all, to really get to know the coach and learn about his culture." 

Not only do the children and families appreciate hosting the coach, but some of the coaches feel that staying with an American family for the week is the most rewarding part of the week. 

"Living with an American family for a week allows us to learn a different way of life while letting the children experience British culture," said Nick Gordon, Challenger Soccer Program fifth year veteran coach. 

The coaches were given a slice of West Coast living, as well as a glimpse into the life of an American Airman. 

"Staying on base was interesting because it gave us a chance to see with our own eyes everything we see on TV [concerning the military] with our own eyes," said Mr. Gordon. "Monday through Friday we were there, living it with them and appreciating the experience." 

The week long British Challenger Soccer Camp gave Vandenberg children the opportunity to learn about the British culture, train with European coaches, learn soccer fundamentals and passed the time as well. 

"During the summer there aren't very many organized programs for children on base," said Sergeant Bedell. "This soccer program is perfect to keep kids active during the summer and prepare for their upcoming season." 

For more information on the Challenger Sports Corporation go to www.challengersports.com, and for more information on Vandenberg's upcoming soccer program contact the Vandenberg Youth Center at 606-2152.