There is a unique opportunity available to Sudbury's young female athletes, specifically soccer players.
Dayna Corelli, Northern Ontario's only coach to be selected for Ontario Soccer's Female Mentorship Program, will be running four 90-minutes soccer clinics starting March 23, absolutely free.
Corelli is a born and bred Sudburian who grew up playing soccer in the Nickel City, before playing for the Laurentian Voyageurs, and now coaching the U21 girls Impact soccer team, as well as the Cambrian Golden Shield women's team. She has attained her provincial 'B' coaching standard, which is the highest level achievable in Ontario.
The purpose of the girls development program that Corelli has started in conjunction with the Greater Sudbury Soccer Club, is two-fold; first to attract new girls to the sport and to the GSSC, which Corelli admits has struggled with numbers.
"We don't have any issues with retention, once the girls start into the sport they stick around," said Corelli. "It's attracting new girls to the sport, getting them to come out and give it a try."
The camp is open to girls between the ages of seven and 14 and is designed to be an inviting and friendly atmosphere, the second part of why Corelli is running these development camps.
"It's myself and a group of girls who play on my U21 team and the Cambrian team or both," said Corelli. "It's an all-female staff which is pretty rare."
In her early playing days, Corelli says she struggled with nerves and a level of being intimated when she attended soccer camps, and she's now looking to change the dynamic to make the sport more inviting to young girls.
"I can remember going through a lot of nerves, going to camps with boys and male coaches, it's definitely stepping out of your comfort zone," said Corelli. "My coaches were great growing up, but I never had female coaches, and it's just a much different dynamic. I can coach boys, the game is still the same out on the field, but I don't necessarily relate to them and understand their motivations the way I can with girls."
Corelli lends credit to her past coaches as well as her current coaching mentor, Cambrian Golden Shield coach Giuseppe Politi, for growing her game as an individual as well as the sport as a whole for girls in Sudbury.
"My first coach was Fabio Belli, I played with his niece and that's how he came into coaching," said Corelli. "We had a really great core group of girls playing soccer at that time and that's kind of what we're hoping to build with this program."
Cambrian College has partnered with Corelli and GSSC to donate gym space to run the camps over the course of four weeks. The donation is one that Corelli says she certainly appreciates, though it was a bit of happy circumstance that led to Cambrian stepping up.
"Shawn Poland (Cambrian's associate VP of college advancement) got in touch with me because his daughter plays and she has a lot of friends who are interested in soccer, so he said that we'd be able to use the gyms at no cost to run the camp," said Corelli.
Finding groups of girls interested in playing soccer is a challenge that Corelli says isn't specific to Sudbury or soccer, but to girls' sports as a whole.
"You see the same pool of girls playing every sport," said Corelli. "So in the summer they play soccer, then in winter it's basketball or hockey or volleyball. We're hoping to reach a new group of girls, ones that might be interested but have been too shy to come out and try it. This camp is free and there's no pressure to make a season-long commitment. We're trying to create the right kind of environment where girls are going to want to come back and want to stick with the sport."
The girls development camp has space for up to 80 girls between the ages of seven to 14 and the camp is filling up fast with less than 20 spots left.
Any girls who participate in the camp and decide to take up soccer in the summer, if they're first-time registrants with GSSC they will receive $25 off for in-person registration and 15 per cent off of online registration for the upcoming outdoor soccer season.
If you're interested in taking part in the camp, you can sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The sessions will run every Thursday night from March 23 - April 13, from 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.