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City of Ceres offers soccer clinic for local youth players
Ceres' Daryl Ronningen exchanged a high-five with Challenger British Soccer Camp instructor Mark Ollerton after successfully completing a drill on Monday, June 14 at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.

It wasn't Ronningen's first exposure to the sport. The soon-to-be first-grader at Hidahl Elementary School took classes through the Ceres Parks, Recreation & Facilities Department in the winter and spring. He also participated in the Kidz Love Soccer development program in Modesto and Turlock.

"He enjoys it," said mother Lily, who rubbed sun block on Daryl's neck and arms during a water break.

Hosted by the city of Ceres, the Challenger British clinic served a dozen children aged 5-12.

Ronningen, Joshua Burgess (Ceres, 11 years old), Keiauna Ervin (Ceres, 12), Malaika Ervin (Ceres, 6), Hanna Brown (Ceres, 9), Trace Brown (Ceres, 6), Quinn Alvine (Hughson, 3), Jonathan Bolanos (Modesto, 12), Ashley Bolanos (Modesto, 9), Brayden Farris (Oakdale, 8), Trevor Farris (Oakdale, 4) and Vickie Lopez (Tracy, 12) worked on dribbling, passing and shooting during the course of the camp.

Ollerton and co-camp instructor Ian Tominson, who is also from England, made sure every participant had fun as games and scrimmages were played.

"We don't get large numbers but we have returning campers," said Traci Farris, Ceres recreation supervisor. "We're doing something right. We'll continue to offer it. It's a valuable program."

"The main goal is to work on the basics," Ollerton said. "I'd like to see a day when a player I coach plays in the World Cup."

Burgess, a third-year participant, said he's improved quite a bit because of the instruction received at the clinic. Joshua will enter the sixth grade at Big Valley Christian School this fall.

"The thing I like about camp is I have fun and learn," Burgess stated. "Soccer is my favorite sport. I really enjoy it."

Brayden Farris has attended the camp four times. He'll soon be in the third grade at Magnolia Elementary School.

"I've seen an improvement in my son," Traci Farris said.

Ollerton joined the Challenger British Soccer Camp's coaching staff four years ago.

"The biggest difference in England is soccer is the top-ranked sport," Mark said. "Our main aim is to get more American kids in soccer. There's been a massive increase in involvement since David Beckham signed (with the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS) in 2007."

The city of Ceres offered the British clinic for the first time in 2006. It will continue to be an annual tradition.

"It's a unique, little program," Traci Farris said.

"It's not a bad job," said Ollerton, who along with Tominson, stayed with the Ervin family during their first-ever visit to Northern California. "It's pretty cool. It's great because you get to see the kids improve."