August 10, 2015
We asked our Soccer Ambassador, Kristine Lilly to give us some insight on what she sees and how she gives back to the world of soccer.
This year I celebrated my 20th year at the Kristine Lilly Soccer Academy. I can’t believe I have been doing camps for 20 years. Each year I have gone back to my hometown of Wilton Ct. to run a 4-day camp for the kids in the area. Each year I see new faces, but a lot of familiar faces. It is those smiling faces that make it all worth it.
The focus of my camp is technical. I always believe that if the young players can master the technical side of the game early than the more difficult parts of the game will be a bit easier because they know how to kick, pass and dribble properly. Along with the focus being technical there is also a competitive side to the camp as well, to teach the kids how to handle winning and losing and also to put them under some pressure. In this arena the outlining concept is that they have fun! Having fun is really important because if it’s not fun – they won’t want to do it.
Through the years I have seen kids grow. Kids that have attended my camps now come back to coach – which makes me feel like I had a positive impact on them. I hope that when the kids leave my camp that they have had a positive experience and feel better about themselves on the field and off. Of course, hearing that they had fun is the icing on the cake!
These days there is so much structure and focus on winning in sports that bringing the fun back into the game is so important. I played on the National Team for 23 years because I enjoyed what I was doing. So it is important that the kids are learning in a fun atmosphere.
Since I was a young kid the attention, knowledge and awareness of the game of soccer has grown. Kids know who the pro players are, they know who is on the National Team, and they know different moves that I didn’t know when I was young. Coaches now have played the game instead of dads that were learning about the game as they taught. Soccer has grown so much in the U.S. and it continues to be the most popular sport in the world.
This past summer the world got to see the U.S. women’s team capture its 3rd World Championship trophy. The U.S. has the most World Cup wins. The impact that it had on young players could be lasting memories. The hopes is that the impact continues to help the Women’s Pro league grow and bring our fans out to support not only the big events, but the pro leagues and college games. We need the fans to be fans all year round and to support the women’s teams, so young girls can see themselves being professional soccer players.
We all have a responsibility to give back. Going back home to teach the kids in my area is so important. It lets them know that someone from their area that started just like them can accomplish great things. Seeing a woman standing before them teaching them soccer shows them that they could coach as well. It shows them that I remember where I came from and thankful to the place that supported me.
I love the game of soccer and each summer I am reminded why I love it so much. The smiles, the hard work, the laughter, the team spirit and the fun keep me coming back. I just wish I was a kid again!