Sweat dripped from the 30 campers running drills. But the heat wasn’t enough to keep them from learning the professional way of playing the sport they enjoy — soccer.
For the fourth year in a row, Gavino Asteghene has brought his elite instructors this week to James Brown Park for the Atlanta Calcio Academy Soccer camp.
Asteghene brings more than three decades of experience to the campers. He has coached at the Lovett School in Atlanta, coached Atlanta Fire United Elite teams, and was selected as the Georgia State Soccer Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2013.
He has also served as a scout for the Empoli Football Club, a professional soccer organization in Florence, Italy.
Asteghene, a native Italian, said he employs the same drills for the campers as the European soccer players learn in Florence. This year, the elite coach said he has younger campers than those he’s had in the past few years in Hinesville. He said there is an advantage in having younger players, and not just high school athletes.
Starting young, he said, is the best way to ensure the movements and techniques they learn in the drills become engrained in the players, making the sport a more natural, intuitive process.
He added that those who stick with the sport can benefit by attending the camps each year to build on their techniques.
This year, former professional player Francesco Macri returned to teach the campers the footwork and techniques used in European-style soccer programs. The kids were grouped based on age and skill, and each got individualized instruction.
The camp is offered every year in partnership with the Hinesville Gator organization and its coach, Tom Sukaratana.
Asteghene and Sukaratanna have known each other for about 33 years. The camp continues through Thursday.