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Whitecaps bringing camp to Whistler

Defender Jake Nerwinski to make visit

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The Vancouver Whitecaps are looking to grow soccer around the province and the Sea to Sky corridor.

The Major League Soccer team will host camps in Squamish and Whistler this summer, with action at Brennan Park from July 10 to 14 and Spruce Grove Park from July 24 to 28.

Both will be headed up by Whitecaps Sea to Sky Academy head coach Graham Murphy, who said the push is part of a multipronged effort.

"It's going hand-in-hand with how Canada Soccer and B.C. Soccer is really establishing growth at the grassroots level," Murphy said.

There will be two different offerings available, with a skills camp for five- to 14-year-old novices and a prospect camp for advanced nine- to 14-year-olds.

"Anybody can come," Murphy said. "It's open to every level of play.

"There's a misconception that we're only targeting high-performance players. We have high-performance and academy programs, but these programs are all about all-inclusive, grassroots, spirited football."

That said, Murphy is always looking for new prospects to join the academy if they decide to pursue soccer with some seriousness.

"It's a good opportunity for me to evaluate and assess (players)," he said. "That academy environment is a great program for the kids that want to take the game to the next level if they're thinking about soccer as their sport."

Murphy said the training will be tailored to players' ages and skills with the goal of building what club coaches have instilled in players.

"We're focused on player habits where we're trying to teach them how to automatically do things with the ball at their appropriate capabilities," Murphy said. "If it's a younger child, we're trying to teach them how to dribble and pass, something as simple as moving with your head up with a smile on your face.

"When we're getting into the U13, U14 (players), we're looking at the first touch (of the ball) into space."

Murphy added the format will try to keep learning fresh for the campers with a variety of drills and games that repeat the skills without becoming tedious.

Rookie defender Jake Nerwinski, who was taken seventh overall by the Whitecaps in the MLS SuperDraft in February, will appear at the Whistler camp. Forward Erik Hurtado will drop in on the Squamish camp.

"They'll almost feel like one of the kids," skills camp head coach Sam Lenarduzzi said. "(Jake) is an all-around nice fellow. I've had him at a few camps and clinics with me and he likes to join in with the kids and play with them."

"I haven't had Jake, but I've had Erik at the camps and he's fantastic with the kids. They love him. He gets right in there and he coaches and plays with them," Murphy added.

The sessions run from 9 to 11 a.m. (at a cost of $159) with an optional afternoon tournament session running until 1:45 p.m. that can be added on for $49.

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