This week in Albena, Bulgaria the 10th Annual Balkan Summer Camp is taking place from Monday 1 – Sunday 7 August. 45 children arrived on Monday morning for a week long camp. This year, the camp’s coaching team includes Danny Berry from Wakefield HC, ENG, Jay Bijl and Twan van den Berg from HC Athena, NED, Kalyan Chernev from NSA, BUL and Ruslan Stefanov from NGS, Bulgaria. This year’s camp features two coaches from Dutch club Athena HC, who have joined as part of the Twinning initiative ‘Sharing Knowledge’ that has partnered Bulgarian Hockey with this club.
Monday served as assessment day. Each coach took the kids through a specially designed drill, to help test their basic skills and lay the foundations for the week’s activities. Ball carrying, passing, shooting and lifting the ball were all tested within some fun drills and games. At the end of the day, the coaches introduced Hockey5s and some matches were played so the kids could get used to the tournament format that would be used during the week.
The coaching team met following a successful first day, to discuss and plan the themes and coaching sessions for the rest of the week. The first focus was on passing, more specifically when to use each passing technique, and assessing game situations. Each coach once again would design a different drill to address the following: Push, push ont he move, sweep, slide hit and backhand sweep. The kids progressed through each exercise and put their skills into practice later on Tuesday afternoon, when a practice tournament took place.
The camp is a great opportunity for kids to play and improve in hockey but it also offers a social programme, some pool time and this year, English lessons. This year’s teacher, Zoe Butcher, held the first lesson on Tuesday, where games and activities helped gauge the different language levels and kept the children entertained.
Wednesday saw the start of the official tournament, as well as some more coaching, this time on flexible ball carrying positions. The children were split into teams of 10 and played 8v8. At the end of the day, the coaching team met to discuss the plans for the next day. Day four’s focus: First touch.
Each coach devised his own drill to work on the following: Receiving in flow on forehand and backhand, first touch in the D, moving towards the ball and carrying to space and receiving across your body to open up the pitch. The kids continue to improve day by day! Coach Twan showed the children some flair tricks, which were very popular!
Thursday saw the children get some training time in the morning, and then a trip to the sea, followed by some more English lessons and the tournament finals in the late afternoon. Another two mini tournaments have to be played to decide the ultimate winner, but all the teams (named the Stars, Tigers, Eagles and Lions) had a great time.
You can follow the Camp’s progress along on their Facebook page, where they put up daily photographs, the programme for each day and more!
Source: Bulgarian Hockey Federation/ Danny Berry