High-level coaching, affordable prices offered at soccer camps
By Sean McDonald
In recent years, the South Bay has seen its world of youth sports change dramatically. The beach communities have always been known for their production of prestigious volleyball players and surfers, but in the last decade or so, youth soccer has expanded to establish itself as one of the area’s most respected sports.
Most South Bay youth sports work in the format of a league of teams, where kids sign up, pay a fee, and then are divided into teams and compete for a season. Torrance-based AYSO, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014, is one such league.
AYSO is nationally recognized as a program that aims to provide a fun and somewhat affordable experience for boys and girls of all ages. But, with all leagues where anyone can play, there is always the competition between those and the exclusive private club teams.
Two men are trying to break this barrier of exclusivity in sports training, and the steep fees that come with it. They realize that there needs to be a way for kids to benefit from high-level and competitive soccer without the cost of highly-priced club or travel teams.
Diego Souza (Torrance High) and Sal Diaz Banning High) are South Bay natives who share a passion for soccer and the next generation of stars. Their goal is provide high-quality instruction for kids of all backgrounds and incomes.
“Soccer enthusiasm is at an all time high in the South Bay,” Souza said. “But professional youth training can be expensive and can quickly drain family resources.”
The pair realizes that there can be a lot of pressure put on kids who play for elite club teams – not just from the intense competition but proving that the money, time and travel provided by their parents is paying dividends. Their ultimate goal is to make kids’ experience more about loving the game of soccer and having fun.
“We just want to foster the love of this incredible game, without the pressure that kids feel playing in competitive leagues,” Diaz said.
Souza and Diaz both played soccer at Loyola Marymount University and have coached for LA Galaxy South Bay club teams in the past. Souza brings a resume that includes being a professional soccer freestyler (known for tricks and ball handling) and is the current women’s head coach at LA Harbor College.
Diaz is the Youth Director for the Los Angeles Galaxy South Bay Girls League and is an NSCAA National Youth Diploma designee certified to teach at an advanced level.
With the recent creation of a large indoor soccer and sports facility called Kickers Indoor Soccer, Souza and Diaz are utilizing the space to run affordable five-day summer camps for boys and girls ages five through twelve.
Camps are held Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. through Aug. 26 and offer a wide variety of games and drills to teach the fundamentals of the game including dribbling, passing, shooting, and defense.
Additionally, Souza and Diaz are planning to hold free clinics periodically throughout the summer.
“The Kickers experience will be all about learning the fundamentals (for both new and seasoned players alike), fostering team camaraderie, and gaining exposure to new moves and skills that will help elevate each player’s personal game while creating friendships that are the hallmark of the summer camp experience,” Diaz said.
Each camp costs $225 per child with a sibling discount of $175 per child. The Kickers Indoor Soccer facility is located in 205 W. Torrance Blvd. in Carson. Registration is available at kickerscarson.com.