GREEN  Damjan Djosanovic didn’t have a chance to go to a soccer camp at Green growing up, but the senior midfielder for the Bulldogs was happy to be a part of the program’s first summer camp for young soccer players in the district.

The camp is something Green boys soccer coach Jason Nelson began working on several months ago with the purpose of helping develop young soccer talent in the district while also raising support for the varsity and junior varsity teams’ needs.

Though there was no such camp for Djosanovic and his teammates, he believes he would have loved the chance to learn from varsity players.

“This just started this year … our first year. I would have thought this is an amazing experience, training with high school kids, it would be incredible for any young kid,” Djosanovic said.

The camp ran for three days at Memorial Stadium, welcoming in players from first through eighth grades for two sessions, one for the younger half of the camp’s attendees and the second for the older players.

The focus for much of the camp was passing, according to Djosanovic, largely making sure players had the proper form when moving the ball around the field. Along with the passing drills, shooting and how to get a solid shot on goal was a priority, although soccer wasn’t the only topic of conversation - some younger campers had some unusual conversation points to address, Djosanovic noted with a laugh.

“The kids really want to talk about food for some reason, food and tacos,” he said.

The camp was not only a chance to help younger players learn and raise funds for team needs like jerseys and goals, but also a unique opportunity for the squad to get on the newly installed Field Turf surface at the stadium.

The new turf was put in place at the start of the summer, replacing a 10-year-old surface that had become worn down over the course of a decade.

Due to the timing of the camp, the boys soccer team was the first to try out the new field.

“It’s incredible, being the first team on here, we really get a feel for what it will be like during the season,” Djosanovic said. “We just pass it around mostly so we really got a good feel for the turf.”

Because the camp is a new idea, the team wasn’t quite sure what to expect when Nelson first told them about it. During a team meeting this spring, players received an offseason schedule and didn’t know what to think when they saw the camp listed.

Once Nelson began filling in the blanks, players got excited about the effort and knew that it would help them connect with the district’s youth players and help pay for new jerseys and nets. Working together at the camp also helped build teamwork and chemistry for a group with designs on once again competing for a Federal League championship.

That goal will mean contending with perennial league power Jackson, along with Hoover and Lake, but Green is confident based on its strong showing in its first two years in the league that it can more than hold its own against any of those teams.

Working with younger athletes isn’t new for Djosanovic; two years ago, he and his brother coached an under-8 youth team, running practices twice a week with games on Sundays. This time around, there was plenty to accomplish in just three days and with the long-term focus of getting ready for his senior season, it was good to be back on the field alongside his teammates, playing (and teaching) the game he loves. 

Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB