LEARNING FROM ‘THE BEST’: Local soccer club teaching kids Brazilian style of soccer

LEARNING FROM ‘THE BEST’: Local soccer club teaching kids Brazilian style of soccer

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa
“No Dribble! Ball Control!” 
The voice of Head Coach Roberto Iwashita traveled across the sandy beach as barefooted kids of various backgrounds and ages chased the soccer ball. The sun was setting, and the Brazilian Soccer Club was finishing up its four-week summer camp on Araha Beach - a five-minute drive from Camp Foster. 
Launched by Iwashita, the soccer club aims to teach kids of all nationalities on Okinawa how to play “authentic Brazilian soccer.”
“This island is much like Brazil,” said Iwashita, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil. “You have friendly people, sugar cane, mango, pineapple, warm weather and the beach.”
While the end of summer means the end of the camp, it also signals the start of the upcoming fall season for the club, which includes three different levels of competition: School, Academy and Club.
“We have three different levels, starting with the school age for the very young ones who are still learning the game of soccer,” said coach and club vice president Adam Rivera. “We want to get them out there, teach them the basics. Not very competitive level for them. It’s just really to see where they are going to fit best.”
From there, the age and competition levels at BSC, which launched in 2008, range from Under-8 years old (U8) to U15, as well as a girls squad. 
“With school age, we have the academy. The academy level kids may be playing for a year or two, and aren’t quite at a competitive level, but still want to play the game of soccer that’s where we really turn the transition for them, from regular soccer player to competitive soccer player, that’s what the academy is for,” Rivera said. “And then the club level is where it gets competitive.”
Tryouts for the fall season teams will start at 9 a.m. Aug. 26 on Camp Lester. Players of all skill levels and age groups are encouraged to register and show up for the tryouts.
“I would tell them don’t be intimidated,” said Rivera of those considering coming out. “We are out there to have fun. We are out there to learn the game of soccer. And everybody’s friends out there. They don’t need to come out there with competitive spirits. It’s always a competitive game, but at the end of the day, all we want is to have fun and make friends.”
Online registration is currently open for the fall tryouts, and can be found at BrazilianSC.com.
The annual summer camp focuses on beach playing, which Iwashita said is something essential in learning Brazilian soccer.
“For many kids in Brazil, soccer starts on the beach,” said the coach with smile.  “If you kick the ball a wrong way, it will hurt. So kids learn how to kick it the right way to avoid pain. Because of the pain, they learn quickly.”
Matthew Joseph Dube, an 8th grader from Ryukyu Middle School, attended the camp and notices the difference between Brazilian and American soccer.
“The soccer I play outside of this club is more of American style, where you run freely,” said Dube, who is returning to play in the fall. “Here it is more of controlled plays.”
“It’s a major difference,” said Tyrone Oglesby, a contractor on Camp Foster whose son Jared has played with the club for two years. “Brazilians view soccer differently. That’s why they are the best in the world.” 
Beyond the annual beach camp and the fall season, the club also offers indoor soccer (futsal) and private training for those interested.
Natalie Brenes, a 7th grader from Lester Middle School who has been with the club for about three years, enjoys the diversity it provides.
“I like the difference. Here in Okinawa, there are different American, Japanese, Okinawan culture. And there are higher level competitions,” Brenes said.
For Oglesby, the diverse interactions his son has are about more than just the soccer.
“He loves it,” Oglesby said. “They have the chance to play indoor, outdoor and beach soccer. And that’s very good experience.
“He is more than involved. [The club has] adopted him as a second family member. He is learning more than soccer, he’s learning a lot about life. Different lifestyle. Different people.”

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