Scoring goals dependent on target

Having a target to shoot at when scoring goals is a useful tool for ensuring a successful aim.

Assistant Nigel Wismath (left) and coach Jeremy Smith put pressure on Jessica Dupas at a Hope Secondary girls' practice last week. The team is hosting its second-annual kids' soccer camp next week

If you aim to score goals, it’s useful to have a good target to shoot at.

For perhaps twenty-five years, Hope Secondary School has had portable soccer goals that have gotten progressively less and less portable. Even when the wheels were in good shape, it was a many-person job to pivot the wheels in place and shift the goals to a new spot.

Then the wheel pivots rusted up, some of the wheels went missing — and even more people were needed to move the approximately 150 kg steel structures.

The beauty of portable nets is the ability to quickly shift them to a new spot, reducing the wear-patches that happen in front of permanent goals.

You can also quickly change the length of the field, to better suit the numbers or age of the players.

Last fall, HSS foods teacher and girls’ coach Jeremy Smith set out to upgrade the school’s goals. He pooled funds from a few sources for the $3,000 pair of aluminum goals, which weigh about a third as much as the old ones.

“Bruce Becker, of Hope Minor Soccer, went halfers with us,” said Smith. “We had some funds left over from our spring soccer camp last year and some money came from the school’s PAC. The goals came out of California and I borrowed a friend’s trailer to pick them up at Sumas — I had a bunch of girls help put them together and the second one only took about an hour. Getting the netting on was the tricky part.”

Smith explained that the old net retainers were often broken and sharp, which were a danger to players and caused a lot of damage to soccer balls.

The new goals have a better way of attaching the netting. The wheels are at the back now and two people can easily move the goals. New nets and great early spring weather have given the girls a boost to their practices. Smith said he has 22 players on the roster, two of them from grade 8 and three from grade 12.

Now in his third year of coaching at HSS, he said a handful of the players have been with him from the start.

Since most of the players have limited experience in the game, fundamentals are a key aspect of the practices. One drill that has become a basic of most sessions is a two-touch drill with one line of girls facing another line, about ten paces away.

One girl passes to the front of the other line, then runs to the back of that line. The receiving girl must stop the ball, then make a good pass to the original line — and switch sides.

Consistency is expected. Every successful pass gets a point toward a goal of 50 or 60, and any poor trap or pass makes the count go back to zero.

“Last year, we even went as high as 100,” said Smith.

Other drills work on movement in a game setting.

“This season, I really want the girls to slow down and control and shield the ball, get the head up and make a good play,” said Smith. “The ball doesn’t always have to move forward. You can look for lateral and back passes, which helps the team move forward cohesively.”

Double-A league play starts the first week after spring break, with the Mustangs traveling to Abbotsford’s MEI on April 8th and to Abbotsford Traditional on April 9th. Their first of three home games is on Thursday, April 16th, versus Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham.

On March 23 and 24, the team is hosting its second-annual spring break soccer camp, from 8:30 a. m. to 3 p.m. Kids will be served breakfast and lunch —prepared in the school’s foods room — and will go home with a snack. Between all the eating, the kids will get sessions to work on their soccer skills and play small-sided games, led by Smith and his team.

Cost per child is $60 total, with funds going to the girls’ travel fund for tournaments at Merritt and Osoyoos.

“Last year, I think we had 35 kids,” said Smith. “We’re hoping it will be closer to 50 this year.”