MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- The Southern California Seahorse Soccer Club hosted their 7th annual soccer camp at Penny Lake fields aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni Japan July 22-24, 2014.
Based out of La Mirada, Calif., the Seahorses are a motivational, religious soccer team who carry out numerous after-school clinics, camps, international tours and many other outreach programs throughout Asia and the U.S. west coast.
In association with Marine Corps Community Services, the Seahorses provided the opportunity for Iwakuni youth to improve their soccer abilities.
“I grew up in Iwakuni,” said Paul Gizzi, tour director for the Seahorses. “I used to terrorize the Kintai area when I was young, so now I’m happy that I’m able to bring others here to experience the same culture I did, all the while sharing our passion for soccer.”
Seahorse coaches focused on different elements of soccer throughout the camp. Each day, participants split into groups where the coaches taught a specific skill, such as passing, shooting, receiving and juggling.
“For being my first time here, it’s an amazing experience,” said Megan Maloney, a camp coach. “We are building bonds with the kids here. They are so nice and willing to learn; what more could you ask from them?”
Scrimmages took place throughout the span of the camp, to allow participants an opportunity to practice and hone their new found skills.
“I love the kids here,” said Kalaila Holt, a camp coach. “They are so full of energy and really enjoy playing soccer. I came to Iwakuni last year and I absolutely fell in love with it. That’s why I decided to come back this year; for the culture, but more importantly, for the kids.”
Holt said she plans on continuing her travel to Japan as long as the Iwakuni community welcomes the Seahorses and provides them with the opportunity to teach and share their love for soccer.