For the legions of kids who have been cooped up at home all spring, fingers remain crossed that one important Czech tradition will go on: příměstský tábor, or “suburban camp.”
Typically taking place in the summer months, these traditional Czech summer camps expose kids to arts, culture, or sports while lending a helping hand to working parents.
One company with a particularly high stake in the summer camp game is Sports Football Academy — a brand new football academy with three locations in Prague — which is due to kick off its inaugural camp at its Košíře location this summer.
Camp founder Lukáš Růžička is hopeful the camp will take place as planned and is encouraging families to sign up as everyone awaits the government’s final decision.
“It is our aim to launch the July camp as planned followed by the opening of the academy,” says Růžička adding that during the weeklong camp for children ages 5-7, he will be ensuring proper hygiene and safety precautions while giving kids the opportunity to develop their bodies and minds after a long period of limited social interaction.
As a coach-educator at the Football Association of the Czech Republic for the past four years, Růžička has managed the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) A license as well as the 1st League Women’s team Viktoria Plzen in 2018. He has played and coached in the Czech Republic, Canada, UK, and in 2015 was the sports director of a football academy in the Philippines.
He says during his UEFA visits, particularly in Belgium and Finland, he gained an international perspective that has carried over into his current coaching philosophy which ties cognitive learning with the physical aspects of the game and champions the bond between children and their natural movement.
“I learned a lot from discussing the connection between football and education with my colleagues and friends from other countries,” he says adding that his travels helped greatly improve his English making it possible to offer English-language instruction not just for Czechs but foreign families in the Czech Republic seeking a less-competitive, more international approach to children’s football.
“Competitiveness is ok, but not in an extreme way,” says Růžička whose camp aims to keep the balance. He notes that because it is for younger children, the goal is to develop individual skills rather than competitive play.
“Also because we are just starting a new academy we think it’s a great opportunity to get to this age group right away and start them off on the right foot with our methods.” Those methods highlight the importance of developing cognitive functions and a child-focused approach.
While football basics and scrimmages will also be a part of the camp experience Růžička finds it important for kids to be able to play freely during the day and has made non-sport activities like drawing and board games part of the daily schedule.
Růžička describes a typical day at summer camp as beginning with a morning routine of talking with kids and introducing to them the day’s program followed by a warm-up of climbing wall exercises and gymnastics.
A line up of his friends and colleagues, many of them one-time professional players, will be on hand to assist including Michal Macek, former national player in youth categories and 1st league player in the Czech Republic and Ireland, ex-pro is Roman Bednar, who played for AC Sparta Prague and Leicester, and Frantisek Vesely, ex-pro for Slavia Prague.
The instructors all have extensive coaching experience but, perhaps most importantly, all of them are dads.
“We realize that we are not coaching adults. Each child is different and each one needs a different approach. It’s important to create a positive learning environment and atmosphere,” says Růžička who above all emphasizes that the experience should be fun.
“It’s their holiday after all,” he adds.
Sports Football Academy Summer Camp is scheduled to take place on July 6–10 and July, July 13–17 from Monday to Friday, 8:30–16.30 at Squashpark Cibulka, Prague 5. The new season starts in August 2020 with regular training twice weekly held at three locations across Prague.
To enroll your child for summer camp or to learn more: visit www.sportsfootballacademy.cz