Local coaches host soccer skills clinic

Former FC Cincinnati star Omar Cummings chats with a group of kids at the skills clinic held at West Clermont High School on Friday, May 4, 2018.

Sports Editor

A light rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of the coaches and children at the community youth soccer skill clinic, held at West Clermont High School on Friday, May 4. The clinic is a collaboration between several local high school coaches.

Staffs from Milford, Anderson, Mount Notre Dame, West Clermont, Cincinnati Country Day, McNicholas, Loveland and Batavia High Schools all help instruct the players who attend the events, where the focus is on individual skills, ball movement and player development.

Batavia head coach Drew Poling said the event went well, noting the kids, parents and even the coaches themselves stayed after the end.

“I think it was a huge success,” Poling said. “The feedback that we got from parents after the clinic was over…we finished at roughly 8:30 and people were still there after 9 o’clock. The kids were still hanging around, playing. We think it was a huge success. The coaches that came out to learn about drills really enjoyed it and were asking us if we could put on more.”

Poling said he came up with the idea himself and discussed it with other coaches in the area. All of the coaches at the event were volunteering their time.

“It’s a community outreach idea that I pitched to some of my fellow coaching colleagues,” Poling said. “Once a month, out of our own free time, we offer up licensed training from experienced coaches to help better the sport of soccer that we’re all passionate about. All of the guys out here were donating their time.”

The event was designed to help children aged five to 12 work on their technical skills, which are crucial, according to Poling.

“Technical skills, especially with the younger ones, are so important,” Poling said. “All of the people that were there are high school coaches, and the one thing we feel strong about is that we’re only as good as the next class coming in. We’re only allowed to work with what we have coming up through the ranks, so if we can make our rec programs better, we know our high school program will get better.”

A total of 152 children signed up for the event. That total gets closer to 200 if the high school and middle school volunteers are counted.

The marquee name at the event was former FC Cincinnati player Omar Cummings, who participated in a few drills with the players while also offering advice to groups of children. Poling said Cummings’ appearance at the event came out of a conversation about a completely different collaboration he was hoping to have with FC Cincinnati.

“I have a contact with FC Cincinnati that was working with me on putting together a high school night for our girls program,” Poling said. “I mentioned to him what we were doing with these community skill clinics, and he said that sounded like a fantastic idea and they’d love to be involved.”

Having that involvement is a good thing, according to Poling, who says it’s like vindication for what he’s trying to do with the program.

“It’s exciting,” Poling said. “To get the support from FC, they’re the most popular thing in town right now. To have them backing us makes it feel even more empowering and it feels even more like we’re doing something good for the future of our sport.”

The event was the second such clinic hosted by local coaches, though it was the first with a special guest. Poling said there is a possibility for more events like this one in the future, but he definitely has something in mind for this summer in Batavia.

“We don’t have another one scheduled yet,” Poling said. “They asked us to put one on in the summer, and we’re willing and able. We do have a summer league that we’re putting on at the Olympic fields in Batavia. It’s going to be an ongoing event, every Thursday evening for an hour and a half. It’s a four-on-four league, we go over skills for about a half hour and then for an hour they’ll play three games of four-on-four. It’s 100 percent free, we’re donating our time to it.”

For more information on the clinics, contact Amy Dyer at Dyer_a@westcler.org or Poling at BataviaGirls Soccer@Gmail.com.