Area girls had the opportunity this week to prepare for the upcoming fall season as they participated in the Mount Holyoke College Soccer Camp run by coach Kanae Haneishi.
More than 40 children ranging in ages from elementary school all the way to high school took their turns learning and refining their soccer skills.
With Haneishi were members of the Mount Holyoke soccer team, which are nearing the preseason.
One of the most unique parts of the camp is the intercultural aspect the children experience each day.
"I am from Japan," said Haneishi. "I think it is really important for the children to get exposed to different things and different cultural experiences."
When the group breaks for lunch, they also spend time indoors doing cultural activities. Those activities have included Japanese Origami, handwriting, use of chop sticks, and also yoga.
Haneishi said the camp is a great way to help the girls, including her own players, get back into the "soccer mode."
"It's about that time for preseason for the girls and they get back out on the field," said Haneishi. "It's also good for my players to spend time working and helping teach the younger kids. It's good for them."
The camp is in its fifth year and has continually had a great turnout. The camp had 10 members of local high school teams come out for camp.
"This is what those girls need to be doing if they want to play college soccer," Haneishi said. "They need to be spending more time practicing and getting touches on the ball."
She said Mount Holyoke College appreciates the community of South Hadley and she enjoys putting on the camp for the local children.
"It brings me back to the real importance of soccer," said Haneishi. "Which is to have fun playing the game."
The camp emphasizes many of the basic skills for the younger children, including dribbling, passing, footwork and ball-handling.
Amber Legare, a member of the Mount Holyoke team and a resident of Chicopee, says she hopes to coach soccer someday and enjoys spending her final weeks of the summer assisting with the camp.
"I like getting to teach the kids the tactical part of the sport," said Legare. "They need to work on footwork and ball-handling."
Haneishi said the camp does emphasize having fun, but she does spend time putting the children in game situations to work on their skills.
Article and photos courtesy of Gregory A. Scibelli - Turley Publications Sports Correspondent