Galaxy players share with campers

Marco Machado, left, and Simo Vrakela of the Brantford Galaxy soccer club speak with some children attending a Tim Horton's Children's Foundation camp at Onondaga Farms on Saturday. - CHRISTOPHER SMITH, The Expositor.

Updated Monday August 20, 2012 by By Hugo Rodrigues, Brantford Expositor.

GLEN MORRIS - Brantford Galaxy first division soccer player Ranko Golijianin was so impressed with Cam Stevenson's goal-scoring technique, he gave him a second shot Saturday during an appearance by the players at Tim Hortons' Onondaga Farms Camp.

“I liked the shooting drill the best,” the 13-year-old Stevenson said after the 90-minute series of stations with a smorgasbord of Galaxy Club players from the pro, amateur and youth teams. “I scored on my first shot and got to go back a second time because he was so impressed.”

Stevenson's not new to the sport, admitting he plays on both his school team and a community team at home in Aylmer.

The visit came together earlier this year at the Tim Hortons Children's Foundation golf tournament, when someone from the Galaxy organization was on the links for the day.

“We had 700 people here and the Galaxy said, 'We want to be a part of this,'” Onondaga Farms general manager Barb Weeden said. “They took the initiative and then a couple of coaches took it from there.”

A few pro-level athletes and officials have made the trip to Onondaga Farms this summer, sharing their experiences and expertise with campers. Tim Hortons draws children from across Canada and a number of American states to its six camps across the continent.

The 10-day camp experience, recommended and selected for youth in partnership with local Tim Hortons stores, aims to bring those who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to have a summer camp experience. Over 100 children aged 9-12 attend over seven sessions starting in May, with Onondaga also being home to the foundation's first- and fifth-year youth leadership program.

“When we have pros visit, they talk about their careers and how they got where they are,” Weeden explained. “They see they can make a career out of something they're really passionate about.

“We want the children to experience things they may not have had the chance to experience before and give them a chance to dream big.”

First year leadership participant Desiree Streef, of Niagara-on-the-Lake, said the Galaxy visit was something to change up the day a little bit, particularly on the session's second-last day. It was a nice bookend to another different experience she'd had earlier in the session when her program went to a performance of “You're a good man, Charlie Brown,” at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

Golijianin said it was easy to get a number of the pro lineup to come out Saturday morning – only hours before a home game that would have an impact on the Galaxy's post-season match-ups.

“The most important thing is to play any sport — hockey, soccer, baseball, whatever. To be involved in sports is a great thing,” Golijianin said. “It's really great to see a bunch of kids who don't know much about soccer, trying to enjoy the day with the ball.”

It was a day for learning on all sides, as the Galaxy players were able to pickup a few new tricks of their own, listening and watching as the camp staff led their charges in some old camp-song favourites— the echoes of which might be heard on the pitch as the season carries on.

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