Thursday, August 07, 2014
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Front - A.J. Beard. Second row - British soccer coach Ryan Simms, Jamie Beard and Tim Stuckey. Third row - British soccer coaches Craig Storey, Toby Aspindle and Shane Morriss. Back - Chris Beard.



Brits coach Lincoln youth on Futbol

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[August 07, 2014]  LINCOLN - The Lincoln Futbol Club is proving to be one of the most important innovations to occur on the Lincoln sports scene. Hard work by some local visionaries created a soccer club that has taken training and competition to a new level.

With the partnership of the city of Lincoln, a soccer complex was created behind the Wal-Mart Supercenter that includes full size playing fields and smaller pitches for younger players.

The Lincoln FC recently held a summer camp that was arranged by Tim Stuckey, FC director and Lincoln High School soccer coach. Stuckey arranged through Challenger Sports, a worldwide soccer camp operator, to present a British Soccer Camp at the FC complex. Four college age soccer coaches from England arrived in Lincoln to present a one week camp to help local school age players refine their skills.

Ryan Simms, Craig Storey, Toby Aspindle and Shane Morriss all went through a recruitment process that Challenger Sports conducted in England and Wales. Storey has been here since March and the others came over several months later. The quad has been traveling across the U.S. conducting camps.

Simms and Storey have been conducting camps in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan. Aspindle and Morriss traveled to Arizona, California, and Wisconsin. The coaches arrived in Lincoln on Sunday, July 27.

All four coaches agreed that they have had a fun summer coaching in the U.S., and they especially enjoyed their time in Lincoln.

Storey remarked on the excellent facility that the Lincoln FC has created. “In many of the other communities, we played on baseball fields that had been converted to a soccer pitch for our one week camp,” he said. Simms remarked that “the Lincoln complex is one of the first places that actually had goals.” Aspindle and Morriss said that in their experience, the Midwest has the best facilities.

All of them grew up in a soccer culture in England. It was the only game they played, and they started kicking a ball around before enrolling in school. “My older brother played soccer, so he encouraged me to play,” said Morriss. One of the differences between England and the U.S. is the number of sports U.S. school kids can choose from. In England, there is only soccer, while kids in the states can chose from football, baseball and basketball, among many others.

The coaches agreed that the competition between soccer and so many other sports is one reason why soccer in the U.S. has not reached as far onto the international stage. “In the U.S., the emphasis is turning out athletes, while in Britain the emphasis is turning out soccer players,” said Storey. But that is changing. Competitive clubs such as Lincoln FC are one of the reasons behind the rapid improvement in U.S. soccer quality.

The four coaches agreed that the Lincoln FC complex would be unusual in England, whose facilities are not as good. Many of the soccer fields in England are only used once a week for games only. They are not used for practice, as are the fields in the U.S.

One other difference between England and the U.S. is the quality of the girl’s game. “Girls in England don’t play soccer, while in the states the girl’s game has developed to a much higher level,” said Aspindle.

While in Lincoln, the four English coaches stayed with Chris and Jamie Beard, who volunteered their home as a residence for the coaches for the week. The Beards have two kids of their own, and having four more share their house for the week was a bit cramped. “No one had to sleep on the floor,” said Jamie with a laugh.

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Chris and Jamie are long time volunteers at the Lincoln FC. They both agreed that having the coaches at their house during the week has been fun.

Dedicated volunteers such as the Beard family and Tim Stuckey are what has made the FC the local success story it has become. “In the beginning, we had one guy on a tractor pulling a roller to smooth out the 28 acres the city leased to us,” said Stuckey. “We have a very good relationship with Mayor Snyder and the city council,” said Chris, “they have been very supportive.”

As their week in Lincoln winds down, Simms, Storey, Aspindle and Morriss will be moving on to other communities to present their one week British Soccer Camp.

Three of the coaches will be returning to England before the end of the year. Craig Storey will be staying longer, because he has been hired by the Peoria soccer club as their full time coach.

The quad all agreed that it has been a fun week. They especially were impressed with Lincoln’s young soccer players who showed up Monday morning ready to learn and play. They were also treated to a hot air balloon ride, and enjoyed an evening at the Logan County Fair. They all agreed that their time with the Beard family was a joy.

All of the hard work that the Lincoln soccer players put in during the camp will be on display during the third annual Lincoln FC Route 66 Shootout scheduled for September 12-14.

The Route 66 Shootout is one indicator of how successful the FC has become, a success that even surprises Coach Stuckey. “The Shootout is growing each year. We will have 50 teams coming to Lincoln this September from all over central Illinois. Some teams will be coming from St. Louis,” he said. There will be over 600 players and several thousand spectators during the three day tournament. Last year there were 81 games on Saturday and Sunday.

All of this is made possible by volunteers, families who are involved with their kids in the Lincoln FC, who always come out to help. “The Lincoln FC is unique in that all of the families whose kids train here know one another and are very supportive,” said Stuckey, “and community support has been great. D&D Sewer Service in Lincoln donates the porta-poties for the upcoming tournament.”

Information about the Lincoln Futbol Club (Lincoln FC) is available on their website. There is also a list of upcoming events.


Lincoln FC:

Past related articles
City hears annual update on Lincoln Futbol Complex

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