PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — In early July the soccer fields at the University of Maine at Presque Isle were filled with young soccer players from Aroostook County, the state of Maine and across the globe, eager to develop their skills and gain lifelong friendships.
The Warren-based Dutch Soccer Academy brought its overnight camps to Presque Isle from July 7 to 11 for elementary students and from July 14 to 18 for middle and high school students.
Students participated in technical and tactical training, small team competitions, league games and drills that aimed to help them improve their athletic abilities beyond the typical school soccer season.
“In Holland you play for a soccer club year-round, practicing three times a week and competing once a week,” said Dutch Soccer Academy co-founder Robbie Krul, who is from Holland, a province of The Netherlands. “We’re all about giving kids the opportunity to develop their skills and understand how they can learn and play better.”
Robbie and Tammy Krul founded Dutch Soccer Academy in 1997 and now live in Rockport. They met as soccer players at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire and initially began DSA in Caribou, which is Tammy’s hometown.
Today the couple operates DSA overnight camps every July at UMPI, summer day camps in Brooklin and Fort Kent,a spring European soccer tour and the DSA United Premier Club, at the PITCH indoor soccer facility in Warren.
During the UMPI overnight camps, players learn from coaches who come from The Netherlands and Brazil.
Robbie Krul noted that spending one week together and dedicating themselves to soccer not only motivates players to become more confident and stronger at their game, but also unites them through teamwork and close bonds.
“As they become better players they also get to know each other more and that bonds them,” Krul said. “We’re known here for having fun but also learning at the same time.”
Many players have been coming to DSA’s overnight camps since their elementary or middle school years. Finn Sheehen of Pembroke has been attending since fourth grade. While participating in small team competitions on July 17, he said that DSA has given him motivation to continue playing soccer after high school.
“The friendships I’ve made here have been the best part,” said Sheehen, who is 16. “I’ve stayed in touch with more people from DSA than from high school. It’s been the best experience I’ve ever had, and not just for soccer.”
The DSA camp also attracts numerous soccer teams and individual students from Aroostook County. Brooke Moyr, 16, of Woodland has been an avid soccer player since middle school and has used DSA to broaden her skillset as an athlete.
“I think I’ve become a better player because the coaches teach us new ways of looking at the game,” Moyr said. “They really want the best experiences for everybody.”
For information about Dutch Soccer Academy and the overnight camps, visit http://www.dutchsocceracademy.com/.