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The City Journals

South Salt Lake holds soccer camp for refugee hopefuls

Dec 02, 2016 02:12PM ● By Brian Shaw

Players are in action at the soccer event on Sat. Oct. 29. (Trisha Gold)

By Brian Shaw | [email protected]

For kids, ages 7-15, who play soccer, an event was held at the Central Park Community Center on Saturday, Oct. 29 that in their eyes was bigger than the World Cup. Prizes and trophies were being given. Food and drinks were available. Most importantly, they were there to have fun and play their favorite sport. 

In addition, coaches from all over the Salt Lake valley wearing their soccer club’s respective polo shirts walked around the fields, holding clip boards and taking notes on these young players. 

For many of these kids—some of whom come from war-torn countries in Africa, Asia and Europe and even Central America—getting an opportunity to participate in this event and show their skills off to these clubs, possibly looking for the next biggest sensation in Utah, was a huge deal. 

Sponsored by Dry Creek Charity, this 4 vs. 4 refugee youth soccer Halloween tournament also featured four-person teams from other clubs who were interested in getting out and playing a little soccer. 

Many refugees started playing on fields in their respective countries, in conditions most people couldn’t imagine. But no matter where they come from, they’re all bound by their love for a little round ball, some dirt and grass, and maybe even a goal to shoot on. 

Several refugee kids from South Salt Lake—like James Rogers and Phanuel Kavita—have come from such war-torn countries and worked their way up from South Salt Lake-area recreation teams to club and high school teams before making it on to college teams and even the pros. All it takes is a dream and a ball and some imagination and determination, according to Dustin Permann, South Salt Lake recreation coordinator. 

“It’s great for them. It gives them a chance to be seen and show off what they can do. We’re really excited about it, the charity is really excited about it and so are these kids,” said Permann about the event.  

And so to have the opportunity to maybe don the shirt of a well-known local club and wear the Nike or Adidas brands that adorn most of the larger clubs in the state, well, it’s just gravy for these boys and girls.  

At the event, the kids participated in dribbling, passing and shooting drills before playing in the small-sided games featuring four players per team and no goalkeeper. The camp culminated in a World Cup-style tournament where the kids got their final opportunity to display the skills they just learned from the event organizers—who held mini-training sessions with the kids—and provide peeks into other soccer skills they learned along the way.