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
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
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
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
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
Information about the Lincoln Futbol Club (Lincoln FC) is
available on their website. There is also a list of upcoming
[By CURT FOX]
Past related articles
City hears annual update on Lincoln Futbol Complex