GREENVILLE – The Dayton Dutch Lions, a professional soccer team, led a youth camp for Darke County boys and girls last week.
The Dutch Lions play in the Premier Development League, which is part of the fourth tier of American Soccer Pyramid below Major League Soccer, the North American Soccer League and the United Soccer League.
They ran a camp in conjunction with the Darke County Soccer Association at the Darke County Fairgrounds. Thirty boy and girls from across Darke County, ranging in age from 9 to 14, participated in the five-day camp.
“I think it’s brought a lot of excitement,” Darke County Soccer Association President Jason Snyder said of the professionals leading the camp. “I think a lot of parents, a lot of kids, are excited to see actual real players come up and show them different things. It’s just exciting for them.”
Paulo Pereira, a coach for the Dutch Lions’ youth academy, said the camp in Darke County went really well.
“The most important thing here we as coaches try to implement is make them improve their ball skills,” Pereira said. “We believe that is the starting point to learning and after that they can be just more confident with the soccer ball, try to do different things.”
Participation in the Darke County Soccer Association has declined in recent years, Snyder said, but the organization thinks it’s starting to rebuild excitement in the community through programs such as the Dutch Lions’ youth camp.
The youth soccer program is important, Snyder said, because it directly affects the strength of Darke County’s high school teams.
“We’re hoping that our rec program will build so that we can build our select teams,” he said. “Our select teams are what feed our high schools, and right now our high school programs we don’t get numbers at our high schools to field a team for the most part. So hopefully we’re building this to feed our high schools; that’s our whole goal.”