Dempsey shows young guns tricks of the trade
FOR MOST children, Thursday evening is one of their favourite times of the week. They know they have just one more day of school before the weekend arrives. But, for a small handful of children from Wexford, Thursday nights are extra special for a very different reason.
Every Thursday night Wexford Youths' Ferrycarrig Park plays host to Bray Wanderers captain Gary Dempsey and his wonderful Match Fit Soccer Academy.
The Seagulls ace launched his academy a few weeks ago on the back of his hugely-successful summer soccer camps.
The academy caters for eight to 14 year-olds and is intended to provide a stepping stone for the stars of tomorrow. Dempsey focuses extremely heavily on technique and helping the players to improve their abilities, and this is evidenced by the fact that each child has a ball at their feet throughout the entire session.
The 'Wexford People' recently travelled to Rathnew AFC's Shamrock Park in Wicklow to observe the Seagulls skipper as he put his Wicklow camp through their paces.
Without doubt the most noticeable thing on arrival was the beaming smiles etched on the faces of the children, which remained there for the entire session (even when they were running!).
Dempsey is extremely heavily involved and is a constant source of encouragement and is always quick to compliment his starlets.
During one particular drill one of the children was struggling with his step-overs, but after a quick lesson from Dempsey's assistant the youngster was throwing step-overs that Lionel Messi would have been proud of.
Wexford native Dempsey also appears to have the Midas touch when it comes to handling children as well as, at the end of the session when he sat his class down for a chat, there was not a peep out of any of them and any parent knows that that is no easy feat!
When the session ended the children were all greeted by their parents who seemed to have enjoyed the session almost as much as the youngsters.
Seán and Ben Algera are two of Dempsey's young stars from the Wicklow academy. They waited around after the session had ended to cheekily ask their mother, Ruth, if she could persuade Dempsey to get them tickets to Bray Wanderers' next home game, versus Dundalk (Friday, October 28). They have heard the midfielder talk the talk, now they want to see if he can walk the walk.
Wicklow Rovers ace Seán was also full of praise for his mentor and admitted that he loved going to the academy.
There are still places available in both Wexford and Rathnew, and for more information visit www.matchfitsoccer.ie.