Soccer camp teaches basics from the ground up

Former South Whidbey High School soccer star Joseph Supang encourages Theresa Edwards to watch her feet and control the ball during Supang’s soccer camp. - Jeff VanDerford
Former South Whidbey High School soccer star Joseph Supang encourages Theresa Edwards to watch her feet and control the ball during Supang’s soccer camp.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

Soccer: It’s all about footwork.

That’s the mantra being taught by Joseph Supang to 25 eager youngsters at his second-annual soccer camp this week.

“My coaching philosophy is to teach players the importance of developing good fundamentals and technique at an early age,” Supang said.

Aided by instructors Chris Cadogan and former South Whidbey High School player Ethan Low, Supang is concentrating on ball control and dribbling mixed with the ability to fake out another player. It seems to be working.

Low, working with the younger kids, had already seen improvement just an hour into the session.

“They’ve gotten better just in the past 10 minutes,” he said. “All they need is a sense of direction on the basic fundamentals of soccer, and they start to accelerate.”

Connor Sterbenz, 8, just wanted to kick the ball.

“Connor, dribble the ball with your feet, don’t kick it straight ahead,” Cadogan advised.

Soon Connor and the others were catching on.

“Hey, it’s just the first day,” Supang noted with a grin that lit up the chilly, overcast morning at the South Whidbey Sports Complex soccer fields in Langley.

Jhamil Bader-Jarvis will start his freshman year as a Falcon in the fall and plans to join the boys soccer team next spring.

“Well, today we’re going over some techniques that I already knew,” he said. “But as the week goes on, I expect to hone my skills. Joseph really knows what he’s talking about.”

His buddy James Young has been playing for eight years. “I’m here to train, so I’ll be ready when soccer at the middle school begins,” he said.

Supang was the leading scorer for the 2000 Falcon boys team that placed second in the state, and was a forward for the 2004 national champion Seattle University team.

He’s excited by the chance to share his skills with younger players.

“The better that players are individually, the better the team will be collectively,” he said. “I want them to learn the game properly, by combining passes and having a methodical buildup when they are in possession of the ball. I try to instill an excellent work rate and a strong level of commitment, which can be used on or off the field.”

Supang was born in Botswana, a former British colony located just north of South Africa. In 1996, his mother married a Peace Corps volunteer who brought the family to South Whidbey, where they still live.

“Soccer brings together people from different backgrounds and cultures, fused into an entity with a single goal,” he said.

Supang is a former member of the Seattle University men’s soccer team, a professional player in Belgium and a member of the Botswana National Team. He hopes to be invited to play for the Botswana national team again as it starts its quest for a berth at the World Cup finals in South Africa in 2010.

Last year, Supang finished his master’s degree in sports administration at Seattle University, then held his first camp on the island.

Audrey Long and Theresa Edwards of Seattle stay on Whidbey for the summer.

“We’re here to improve our skills and get some exercise,” Long said.

“I really need to focus on my footwork,” Edwards added before engaging in a spirited dribbling match against Supang.

“Watch my feet, watch my feet!” he encouraged the youngsters.

Supang charges $120 for a week’s worth of high-intensity soccer instruction, but there’s a discount for second-year students.

For more information, visit or call 206-661-8783.

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