A new youth soccer program in Williams Lake is aiming to shape the future stars of tomorrow.
Williams Lake soccer coach Nara Riplinger spearheaded the program, Future Stars, after attending a coaching clinic in Prince George last year.
“I was up there for a coaching clinic and I was so impressed with the level of the coaches at this clinic and they were all saying ‘I’m a Future Stars U12 coach, or I’m a Future Stars U10 coach,’ and I had no idea what it was.”
Future Stars is a totally inclusive soccer development program for kids created by former Prince George Soccer Association technical director Joel MacDonald. MacDonald has since moved on to work for the Ontario Soccer Association but the program is still running strong in Prince George.
“Basically he [MacDonald] had this brainchild of running a totally inclusive development program,” Riplinger said.
“There’s no cuts. Everybody of every level is welcome. We have under-9 and under-10 boys and girls playing together and we have everybody from first-year soccer players to sort of on their road to rep players, which is really neat.”
In its inaugural season Future Stars has 58 players.
The team meets at Marie Sharpe elementary once a week for a its practice session.
Riplinger said Future Stars is tiered for abilities so players can achieve success learning the fundamentals of the game.
“As a house coach you’re trying to run a practice with kids of all different skill levels and it can be frustrating because some kids need more basics and some kids need some more challenges and if you’re a new coach that’s really difficult,” she said.
“What we do here is divide by ability so each kid can get success at the station they’re at.”
Each station has drill modifications as well as progressions so each coach can tailor their exercise to its specific group.
In addition, Riplinger has enlisted the help of 15 volunteer community soccer coaches to help manage the players.
“The thing I really like about it is we’ve made a coaching team and the coaches are all working together,” she said. “This is a great way for different coaches to work together and to pickup different styles.”
The coaches also range in level from newcomer to experienced.
“Right now everyone runs off my session plan but as the season goes we have some really experienced coaches that are going to be able to run their own sessions,” she said. “Most of these coaches coach one, if not two, teams already and when I said ‘Do you want to be a part of this?’ they were all over it. To me that speaks volumes about the level of coaching and commitment we have.”
Coaches include: Mike Franklin, Curt Levens, Rya Enns, Chris Nowotny, Colby Silver, Grant Gustafson, Lisa Kerley, Gina Alexander, Carrie Kerley, Rick Heal, Devon Strohschein, Kelvin Parent, Tania Lauren, Randy Riplinger, Cristina Carriere, Quynn Passeri, Roy Keats and Marco Passeri.
The Future Stars program began at the beginning of May and runs until the end of September.