UK coach helps develop ‘Beautiful Game’ in Sampson

By: By Mike Carter - Sports Writer

By Mike Carter

Sports Writer

Perry McLachlan kicks a ball toward Zana Barefoot during a drill on Wednesday morning at Royal Lane Park. McLachlan kicks a ball toward Zana Barefoot during a drill on Wednesday morning at Royal Lane Park.

With soccer fever at an all-time high on the heels of Team USA’s recent World Cup Championship, the Sampson County Soccer Club hopes to capitalize on increased interest in the game to help further develop the sport in the area. The Club also contracts with Premier UK to bring in European Coaches to help coach youth teams, run camps and provide individual instruction to budding soccer stars.

Perry McLachlan, a young soccer coach from England, is currently assigned to the Sampson County Soccer Club by Premier UK. McLachlan was doing an individual instruction session on Wednesday morning at Royal Lane Park when I caught up with him. McLachlan has been in Clinton for the past sixteen months and spends his time coaching youth teams, running camps and providing individual instruction to players.

McLachlan has soccer in his blood. He has played all his life, spending most of his career as a goal keeper. McLahlan said, “I played mostly in goal, playing on several semi-professional teams.” McLachlan decided to devote his time to coaching and joined Premier UK. He has been in Clinton since March of 2014 assigned to the Sampson County Soccer Club.

On Wednesday morning McLachlan was putting Zana Barefoot through a workout, helping her sharpen her goal keeping skills. The coach said “the most important skill a goalie must learn is to put him or herself in a ready position the instant the shooter draws back to kick the ball. If you are not in a ready position at that point you have no chance to make the save.” McLachlan says the feels he can make a goal keeper out of just about any player but stressed, “good hand and eye co-ordination is key, in fact good total body co-ordination is a must for any aspiring goal keeper.”

McLachlan is currently the lone Premier UK coach in Clinton. Premier UK normally provides two coaches to the Sampson County Soccer Club but recently had a coach leave to pursue his Masters Degree. “We should have another coach assigned here very soon and we will be back up to speed with two of us in place”, continued McLachlan.

Joel Coleman, vice president of the Sampson County Soccer Club, said, “our relationship with Premier UK has been a good one. They have really helped us over the years providing coaching and teaching to help the club realize its goal of developing the game of soccer in the county.” The Sampson County Soccer Club is affiliated with the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association, the governing body for the sport of soccer in North Carolina. The state organization sanctions tournaments and officials and regulates youth soccer rules for the North Carolina.

It would appear that the Premier UK coaches and the Soccer Club volunteers are doing well at their job with the hundreds of children across the county that participate in youth soccer programs each year. The growth in the sport is also evident at the high school level with both the men’s and women’s teams at Clinton High School becoming fixtures in the state playoffs over the past decade. Several other county high schools have made recent playoff runs and it appears that interest in the “Beautiful Game” is still on the rise. Coleman concluded, “the Sampson County Soccer Club strives to promote the game and cultivate interest in soccer in a child first manner, team USA’s win on Sunday will only help make that easier.”