By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
A new international partnership between the Oshawa Kicks Soccer Club (OKSC) and the Rangers Football Club (RFC) is about to bring a serious surge to the summer of Oshawa’s soccer players.
For a weeklong camp in July, OKSC will be hosting a camp in conjunction with the RFC to bring top level coaches from the club’s men’s and women’s academies. The Rangers, based out of Glasgow, Scotland, play in the Scottish Premier League, the top tier of the Scottish Professional Football League.
Ron Clarke, OKSC’s director of soccer development, says the experience will be incredible for Oshawa’s young soccer players.
“Just like we dominate in hockey, Europe dominates in soccer, so having the best of the best coming to teach our kids is always good,” he says.
And the program really is about all kids, as Clarke says RFC’s ability to cater to both male and female players was a real draw in bringing the program to Oshawa.
“The first thing that I saw is that they have a men and women’s program and that was a big deal for us,” he says.
“In North America, it’s 50/50 between boys and girls who play the game, so we wanted to make sure that if we were going to do a camp, that the coaches that come down have worked with boys and girls.”
The partnership also included an advance visit from RFC’s overseas development officer Gary Crooks, who had a chance to enjoy the opening week of OKSC’s annual Frank Sobil Spring Classic tournament. He tells The Oshawa Express that following initial conversations with OKSC regarding the partnership, he knew it was a right fit.
“We felt there was mutual benefits in terms of how we want to do things,” he says. “We want to work with people who want to develop kids and want to do things the right way and you can see that the facilities that you offer and just felt that it was a really good fit.”
The camp will run from July 4 to 8 at Lakeview Park and the Civic Recreation Complex, and include a week of soccer training and advice from RFC coaching staff and is open to all kids aged eight to 18.
According to Clarke, OKSC hopes the partnership will hold strong for the years to come.
“We want to do more than just camps in the future,” he says. “We want to do education and we want opportunities if our players are good enough and Gary thinks they’re good enough to be sent over to Scotland.”
Crooks says RFC is also looking for something larger than a one-off partnership between the two organizations.
“We want to establish a relationship longer term,” he says. “We felt that looking at the whole holistic picture of it rather than just doing a one-off event.”
For more information on the camp or to register, visit oshawakicks.com.