The Monkey (now age NINE!) has gone to British Soccer Camp for the past four summers. He enjoys the drills, the skill-building games, and the team-based “World Cup” competition that goes on throughout the week. As a parent, I have been pleased with the balance of learning and fun.
For the second year in a row, we offered to host a Challenger Sports coach for a week. Last year, we hosted Thiago from Brazil, who was in Austin coaching the older kids’ Tetra Brazil camp. This year, we hosted Shannon from Portsmouth, England, who was a coach at the British Soccer Camp my boys attended.
When I told the boys we would be hosting Shannon, they were immediately excited to meet her and hear about her soccer experience (she plays for Portsmouth Ladies FC) and her “regular life” (she’s a university student studying sports coaching and management) and things she likes (films, especially musicals, and most certainly “Frozen”…much to a certain four year old’s delight.)
I was thrilled to have a female role model for my boys, who learned quickly that they could learn a lot from Shannon, on and off the pitch.
In addition to backyard games of footy, we took Shannon out and about. We had to contend with our very rainy Austin summer, but at least we were able to sneak in a round of mini golf. The Stowaway remembered we had done this with Thiago last year, and she was insistent on taking Coach Shannon as well.
It turned out there was a bit of a housing shortage in Austin, so we volunteered to host Shannon a second week. That meant we had a full weekend in between work weeks to go to the movies, do some shopping, eat Tex-Mex, and play in the pool.
We even found time to go for a run over to and up Mt. Bonnell. (Race final: England 1 – USA 0)
During Shannon’s second week, she coached camps in the morning and in the evening, so we didn’t see her as much. She was a considerate houseguest, and it was really no trouble at all to have her in our home.
Before she left, the kids wanted to take Coach Shannon bowling. (And knowing that she likes films, I had to let her know our local bowling alley was the one used in the Oscar-winning “Boyhood.”) After much protestation about not being good at bowling, Shannon managed to get four (or was it five?) strikes in the game. But thankfully my husband came through in the end to give the win to the USA.
One of the most fun things about hosting a coach is letting the kids come up with ideas for what to do to show the coach around town. It’s fun to see what your kids think is a big part of your city or your family’s culture. The boys taught her how to play Ticket to Ride and other favorite board games. The Stowaway loved having a “big sister” around. For our family, a trip to Kerbey Lane Cafe on our final morning together was a must-do, as it is our weekend breakfast spot.
If you’re looking for a low-commit way to introduce your child(ren) to another culture, I highly recommend hosting a Challenger coach. We’ll certainly be doing it again next year. Three times makes it a family tradition, right?!
I did not receive any special compensation for this post. The opinions expressed here are mine.