By Shane Nicholson
Rockford Raptors FC are set to host a youth camp with one of European soccer’s giants next month.
Scotland’s Rangers FC and the Raptors have announced an Elite Player ID Camp at Sports Core 2, 8800 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park, June 27-29.
The camp, managed in part by Global Image Sports (GIS), will be overseen by a member of the Rangers North American Academy and will feature coaching methods developed by the staff of the Glasgow-based club.
“As a club we are delighted to welcome the Rockford Raptors on board as a North American Partner club,” said Greg Statt, Overseas Development Officer for Rangers.
“This is our second year working with GIS and our North American Academy just keeps growing with now over 30 Player ID camps this summer, with of course Rockford Raptors hosting one of them.”
Rockford Raptors FC has been developing youth players in the area since 1996. They currently tout approximately 400 players in their ranks and over 2,000 in their recreational program, Raptors Youth Soccer League.
Fully 26 graduates of their academy for 2015 are set to move on to collegiate competition, including seven at NCAA Division 1 schools.
Rangers announced the partnership with the Rockford club in March, part of their ongoing expansion into the North American market which is set to see over 30 camps held over the course of this summer.
“We are honored and excited to partner with such a prestigious club as Rangers,” said Hugh Ward, Director of Coaching for the Raptors. “We look forward to our players and coaches being exposed to the Rangers Coaching Philosophy.”
Rangers, founded in 1872, are the most successful club in the history of Scottish football, claiming 54 league titles, 33 Scottish Cup titles and the 1972 European Cup Winners’ Cup.
“As well as hopefully creating more Rangers fans in the Rockford area we have also created a realistic pathway for talented players to potentially make the move across the Atlantic,” Statt said, “similar to likes of (former U.S. Men’s National Team captains) Carlos Bocanegra and Claudio Reyna, to name a couple of U.S. players that have played for Rangers in the past.”
Players who impress at the June camp will be invited to a national camp at the end of the summer and the top talent from that event will move on to train at Rangers’ Murray Park training facility in Scotland.
“Our coaches are very much looking forward to the camp in June,” Statt continued, “and indeed the relationship building in the future.”
The three-day sessions are grouped in U8-U11, U12-U14 and U15-U18 categories. The cost of the camp is $135.
For more information visit rockfordraptors.org.