VIDEO: ‘This is a great outlet to introduce sport:’ Nanaimo soccer camp connects with youth on many levels | NanaimoNewsNOW

VIDEO: ‘This is a great outlet to introduce sport:’ Nanaimo soccer camp connects with youth on many levels | NanaimoNewsNOW

Around 200 kids were expected during Monday’s camp with a full day of activities on and off the pitch.

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Players and coaches from the VIU men’s and women’s program, along with the UBC women’s team were also on hand.

Hope and Health was founded in 2012 and has seen tremendous growth since the peak of COVID-19. They have expanded their programs to many different communities and enjoyed immense success.

“Nanaimo and Snuneymuxw was the first and we’ve progressed to doing camps in local communities, we’ve even gone up to Campbell River, Alert Bay, Powell River this year,”Kostering was added.

The program is suitable for children of all ages and skill levels. Participants were given a jersey and those who didn’t have cleats, socks, or shin pads were given a variety of donated gear to take home.

Kostering stated some people are there for the first-time, while others use it for a guide for the season.

“We have a lot of youth that come out who haven’t played soccer before, but they love the program, the inclusiveness…and then you move onto kids who are just getting more touches in. Some of them have been in programs but they want to play with their younger siblings so they come here to do it.”

Jake Nerwinski, Vancouver Whitecaps defender, was one of the three players who attended along with a handful of staff.

It was Nerwinski’s fourth time in Nanaimo helping out and his sixth year being involved with Hope and Health.

“Sometimes I feel like I get more out of it than the kids do. I think it’s awesome just to come out, be able to let loose, be free, have fun with the kids and see the kids have a great time. This is a great outlet to introduce sport, especially soccer which is a sport I love.”

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Nerwinski joined the program when he moved to Vancouver in 2016 to play for the Whitecaps.

He was friends with Deana and Ed Georgica, co-founders. “the rest is history”Nerwinski stated that many children go through multiple years, learn, and return to their coaches.

“Being a part of it for six years and seeing how much its grown in that time is tremendous. Seeing this camp particularly grow and grow each year shows the importance of it, getting these kids out here and getting them all together.”

Despite the fact that in-person camps were suspended, Nerwinski continued to be involved with the program throughout the pandemic. He offered several leadership and skills training online to keep kids interested.

“I was doing sessions in the apartment with my ball, showing skill work with the ball. It was just a great way to keep everybody engaged and together to not let it falter a little bit because sometimes if you take some time off, maybe you lose a little bit but it’s only grown since then.

More information about Hope and Health is available available on their website.

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