Millennium Park Home to Soccer Clinic for PYS' A-Division.
Former English semi-pro John Grayson training young "soccer stars" in September and October.
"What are we?" John Grayson, a former English semi-professional player and once director of Major League Soccer's summer camps, shouts at Parkway Youth Soccer's A Division players.
"Soccer stars!" they call back.
Such is the scene at Millennium Park from 4 to 5 p.m. on weekdays this month. Parkway Youth Soccer's A Division, home of the area's 4-, 5-, and 6-year old soccer players, is currently in the midst of a clinic sponsored by Shaw's and run by Grayson. From September 13 until October 15, A Division teams' weekly practices at the park are occurring in conjunction with the clinic, which is run by Grayson.
Grayson, originally from the small town of Birtley in northeast England, has been coaching since 1986 and in America since 1996. Previosuly, he's worked with Parkway United's travel teams. With the A Division, he says fun is the priority but thinks that fun comes from putting an emphasis on dribbling drills.
"I focus on getting the kids lots of touches with the soccer ball and learning how to use their feet around the ball," he says. "That makes the kids more comfortable and confident."
So far, the clinic has been a success for both Grayson and parents.
"We're trying to get younger kids involved in soccer and teach them the basic skills to enjoy the game," Grayson says. "There's been lots of participation, lots of enthusiasm."
"He really makes it fun for the kids," says Sheila Deely, whose 6-year-old son Conor practices on Thursdays. "You can tell he knows his stuff about soccer and you can also tell he has a lot of experience working with children."
"It's a great clinic," she adds. "Conor absolutely loves it."