Soccer Camp Blends Training with Culture

By Jen ThomasPrint Story | Email Story
Caryn Piacenti, 11, takes a break during practice.
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Adams - With the arrival of David Beckham taking America by storm, it won't be long until soccer (or "football," as it's called everywhere else) finally breaks into the mainstream in the U.S. Until that fateful day, Paul Mumby, creator of BEST English Soccer Camp, will continue to travel throughout Massachusetts, teaching kids the joy of soccer and providing them with an opportunity to learn about British culture. "It's not just about coming here and teaching children how to play soccer," said Mumby, watching approximately 50 area youths run across the Valley Street Soccer Fields on Monday morning. "We're trying to give them a cultural experience." The BEST Soccer Camp was developed in 1999 by Mumby, a former semi-professional soccer player in England and current Westborough high school girls soccer coach, as a way to match American children of all ages with experienced English soccer coaches. Mumby hoped to create a cross-cultural connection based on a common love for the game and. in the nine summers that Mumby has been spearheading the week-long soccer training sessions, Adams has been a stop on the tour. "The chance to come to America and share our passion and enthusiasm for the game is a great opportunity for our coaches and Adams was one of the first towns we visited," said Mumby, who will visit 16 towns in total this summer, including afternoon sessions in Lanesborough this week. Working in collaboration with Adams-Cheshire Youth Soccer, BEST Soccer Camp hosts four days of four-hour sessions focusing on teaching different fundamentals, including dribbling, passing and shooting. The sessions split groups by age and further, by ability. The camp, which runs this Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. begins with morning practices and is capped off with a mini-tournament at the end of the day. "Any opportunity you can give a child to chance to work with a soccer ball is a great opportunity," said Regina Hill, the camp's Adams coordinator. "And the kids love it." Additionally, BEST asks the players to learn as much as they can about British culture while they're training. The camp will host "England Day" on Wednesday, where children can bring in any British memorabilia they have to share with the rest of the group. The 10 coaches on the six-week tour of the state are recruited from three British locales - London, Leeds, and Birmingham and have Union of European Football Associations license awards (or the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/United States Soccer Federation certified). "You can be the best soccer player in the world and have no idea how to handle a 5-year old," said Mumby. "Our coaches are handpicked; they're people who have played the game and have experience. That's what makes us one of the better soccer camps." Mumby and Coach Tal Mahmood believe the most important aspect of the summer soccer camp is the ability to learn something new, while still having fun. "The first thing they're going to learn is how to have fun. If they aren't having fun, they aren't willing to learn," said Mumby. Training between 700-1,000 students a summer, Mumby said he doesn't want his annual summer camp to become much bigger than that. "I'm about quality, not quantity," he said. As for Beckham, Mumby said he hopes the soccer star will help Americans gain an appreciation for the sport the rest of the world has already embraced. “Beckham isn’t playing in America just for himself, but also to promote the game,” said Mumby. Jen Thomas may be reached via email at or at (413) 663-3384, ext. 23.
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Adams Girls Basketball Travel Team Wins Tourney

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CHESHIRE, Mass. -- The Adams seventh- and eighth-grade travel girls basketball team won its home tournament over the weekend by knocking off two teams from New York.
North Adams made a strong run, beating Greylock and Ballston Spa, N.Y., before falling to Adams.
Adams advanced and defeated a tough Averill Park, N.Y., team that defeated them the day prior to win the tournament.
The tournament win was the Adams girls second championship of the season.
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