image- soccer camp
An upcoming camp is expressly for girls looking to improve their soccer skills and learn from female role models. Photo courtesy of Challenger Sports

For the third year, Challenger Sports will be offering a female-only soccer camp during the summer here in Half Moon Bay. The Next Level Female Development Camp is open to girls, 9 to 13, and will be led by female coaches. 

Dylan Ragozin’s two daughters, 11 and 13, will both be attending the camp for the second time later this summer. The Coastside soccer dad and coach said that his girls participated in the camp’s first year and loved it.

“It was the best soccer experience they’d had,” he said. “Everyone kept talking about the counselors. That first year it was super solid.”

Research shows that participation in sports has a lot to offer to young women. 

In 2017, the nonprofit Ruling Our eXperiences surveyed more than 10,000 girls across the United States about their thoughts, experiences and perceptions on key issues such as confidence, body image, friendships, pressure, leadership, career aspirations, school, academics, technology and social media. 

The report found that girls who play sports fared better on nearly every metric than their non-sports peers, reporting higher levels of confidence, stronger relationships and lower levels of sadness and depression.

Yet another recent study called “Girls in Sports” sponsored by Gatorade found that girls drop out of sports more quickly than boys, and by age 17 more than half of girls will quit playing sports altogether. 

Camps like this one strive to keep girls in sports by offering them more support and providing them with positive female role models. 

Coaches through Challenger not only bring participants a knowledge of soccer, they also provide a multicultural experience. The coaches are recruited from the United Kingdom and Brazil and live with a host family in the United States for the summer while coaching at camps. 

“The coaches that come over are not just passionate about the sport, they are excited to be in a beautiful part of the world on a working vacation,” said Kevin Comer, regional director for Northern California for Challenger Sports. “Their natural energy and enthusiasm rubs off on the children.” 

For Ragozin, it was the outstanding caliber of the coaches rather than the all-female format that really made the positive impression for his daughters. But if some girls feel more enthusiastic about an all-girls camp, so much the better.  

“If the participants feel more comfortable and more courageous (in an all-girls camp), then that confidence is going to promote a more positive experience,” he said.

The Challenger Female Development Camp will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 17 to 21, at Cuhna Intermediate School. Challenger will also host two coed camps later in the summer. Register online at challengersports.com.

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