Soccer players looking to take their skills to the next level, whatever level that is, need look no further than an Island enterprise for help.
The Charging Rhinos Soccer Academy, owned by Islanders Angelo and Cathy Grande, is gearing up for fall and winter training sessions at its indoor training facility at 2409 Whitehaven Road.
Grande said the all-winter program is broken down into four six-week sessions, and players can sign up for one session or all four. The program Session 1 runs from Sept. 12 to Oct. 22; session 2 is Oct. 24 to Dec. 9; session 3 is Jan. 9 to Feb. 18; session 4 Feb. 20 to April 7.
The lead trainer for the academy is Matt Waddington, a professional player with SC Roma soccer club of St. Catharines, Ontario, in the Canadian Soccer League. Grande said Waddington has a background in physical education, health and nutrition, and combined with Grande the academy teaching staff has more than 30 years of experience.
The academy's indoor facility allows small class instruction, which in turn facilitates more individual instruction to improve a player's skills "for the next level, whether it be a house player trying out for travel, or travel to select, even select travel players going toward their high school teams," Waddington said.
A maximum of 16 players will meet for training sessions of an hour long. Rhinos training focuses on small group training, rather than large team workouts of 40 or 50 players, Grande said.
"We can better focus on doing an evaluation on that child and seeing what their needs are. Then we do small-sided games, 3-on-3 and 4-on-4," Grande said. "This way they get a lot of touches (of the ball)."
In small groups, players develop skill sets in game-like situations, Waddington said, adding that the emphasis is "building the overall player" through attention to technique and athleticism.
The next closest such facility is in Elma.
"A lot of the coaches are making arrangements off the Island to practice with their teams," Grande said. "This is a great venue, for them to come here and practice."
The academy offers gift certificates for parents to buy for their children or their children's team.
The Rhino program includes the Roaring Rhinos for players ages 4 and 5, a training program to teach the building blocks of the game, with the players' first introduction and instruction in the game to build self-esteem and confidence, Grande said.
"What we find with the kids at that age is they're running around crazy just kicking the ball. It's an introduction of proper techniques in a fun way," Grande said of Roaring Rhinos.
Call 773-5282 for details, or email [email protected].