World Cup veteran Jay DeMerit will be in Nelson for a one-day Whitecaps training camp next week, and Nelson Youth Soccer regional coach Brett Adams couldn’t be more thrilled.
“Jay is a great role model. He’s always been the captain on every team he’s ever been on, and that tells you something about his character,” Adams said.
When DeMerit approached the Whitecaps to see if he could participate in the camp, they jumped at the chance. Adams said DeMerit has been transitioning into an ambassadorial role upon retirement, and is passionate about developing the game in Canada.
“It’s important to say not only that Jay’s coming, he’s coming because he’s genuinely interested. He’s been to another camp and he wants to know what’s going on in the area,” Adams said.
“He’ll be interacting with the kids. He’ll come around and meet the players, the coaches. The aim is to pull each session to a stand-still at one point to have a Q and A.”
DeMerit’s improbable rise to success was recently documented in Rise and Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story. The film tells the story of how DeMerit didn’t originally make the MLS draft in the U.S., then moved to England to play in a non-professional league.
“Then he gets a call from a professional team in England called Watford,” said Adams. “They offered him a try out and he took it with both hands.”
DeMerit’s career peak was competing in the 2010 World Cup.
“If you talk to the kids in our program, they were all gripped and engaged by the World Cup that just was on. To meet someone who played in the USA Men’s national team at the World Cup is truly an unbelievable opportunity,” he said.
Adams believes DeMerit will be a perfect role model for the young athletes.
“Not only has he been a fantastic soccer player. He’s an honest, trustworthy person and that’s why the coaches chose him for captain. His aim was to control the defence and he was brave as they come,” said Adams.
Put another way: “He puts his head where most people wouldn’t dare to put their feet.”
The two and a half hour camps will include themed sessions such as passing and receiving. Players will get a chance to receive coaching from the two full-time coaches, Adams and newly appointed assistant head coach Sam Heap.
“We’re very lucky at this stage because we’ve got two full-time members here trying to make this area a better soccer environment,” said Adams.
He said Heap was the right candidate for the job.
“He’s growing in the Kootenays. He’s got the likeable factor, every player and parents that come into contact with him appreciate what he brings. He’s somebody we’re happy to promote and move along in his coaching qualifications for many years to come.”
Players registered in the camp will get an opportunity to have their picture taken with DeMerit, and to get an autograph.
The camps runs from August 12 to 14. For more info visit whitecapsfc.com/youth/programs/camps or call Brett Adams at 250-777-2173.