Independent Families: 'Our son wants to do a football course'

Q. Our 11-year-old son lives and breathes football, and is desperate to do something soccer-related this summer, particularly since the World Cup. We've looked at the usual children's activity holidays, but wondered if there was anything more targeted out there?

Bill and Lucinda Atkins, via e-mail

A. Your first stop should be your nearest professional football club, most of which have links with Football in the Community (FITC). This is a nationwide, not-for-profit organisation that runs holiday soccer coaching for children, based at club grounds. One of the largest is based at Leeds United (0113 367 6341;; summer courses for five-12 and 13-16-year-olds run in various locations in Yorkshire for six weeks from next Monday, 24 July, and cost £16 for a single day or £49 for four days. If your son has his eye on a professional career, this could be a good place to start: two out of three of the players in Leeds' football academy were first spotted at FITC courses.

Multi-activity summer camps such as those run by market leaders PGL (0870 050 7507; and Camp Beaumont (0870 499 8787; may not involve much football. But don't write them off completely; ever-sensitive to the demands of modern children (and the marketing opportunities offered by the World Cup), both run specialist football breaks.

PGL's football weeks for seven-16-year-olds run throughout the summer at two of its residential centres, in Shropshire and Surrey, and involve laid-back sessions of footie training in the morning, followed by afternoons trying out sports such as abseiling or snorkelling. The cost for seven nights is £423 in Shropshire, £396 in Surrey, and includes full-board accommodation in dormitories or four-bedded tents, as well as activities.

For an extra £60 or so, you might still be able to squeeze into Camp Beaumont's World Cup holiday, so-called because participants spend mornings being taught super-speedy futbol de salao by professional coaches from the renowned Brazilian Soccer School. This is for one week only, from 12 August, at The Island, a dormitory-based Isle of Wight site. Don't worry if you miss out on it, as the company also offers standard All-Star Football weeks at two other sites throughout the summer.

If these don't sound suitably soccer-specific, two of the sport's greatest British exponents have lent their names to courses concentrating solely on the beautiful game. The Bobby Charlton Soccer and Sports Academy (01565 632 555; runs residential summer camps at Myerscough College, Preston to 11 August, for ages eight to 18, playing five to six hours of fun, skills-oriented football a day. All abilities are catered for, from absolute beginners up, and the minimum stay is five days, though girls and boys are welcome for up to three weeks. A five-day full-board stay costs £355, and includes accommodation in twin or single rooms on the campus.

The BCSSA's most famous ex-pupil now has his own school, the David Beckham Academy at an undercover site near London's Millennium Dome (020-8269 4620; www.thedavidbeckham It runs excellent non-residential, three-, four- and five-day football camps for eight- to 15-year-olds, focusing on team-building, tactics and techniques. Prices start at £175, including lunch and, at the end of a course, a pair of Beckham-branded Adidas trainers.

For a serious, fully residential holiday coached solely by professionals, you may also want to consider an Exsportise camp (01444 444777; As the name suggests, these are activity breaks that concentrate solely on sport, whether single or multi-discipline. Its five-day football academies for 10 to 16 year-olds use Premier League coaches to teach boys and girls in two, daily, three-hour sessions. Children will be divided into ability groups, but whatever their level can expect to improve their technical skills, fitness, positional play and decision making. They will play in a tournament at the end of the week to which parents are invited. Camps run weekly throughout July and August, and cost £329, including full-board accommodation in single-sex rooms or dormitories at one of two boarding schools in southern England.

Finally, if you're booking these or any other residential children's holidays, it's always a good idea to check a few facts first. Any reputable organisation should be happy to confirm that all its staff are cleared by the Criminal Records Bureau, as well as let you know what professional qualifications they have. Feel free to ask about health, safety and security arrangements - does a member of staff sleep in dormitory buildings, for instance?

Also check whether the company is a member of the British Activity Holiday Association (020-8842 1292;, or any national sporting bodies. And any camp that takes children under eight must also be Ofsted-inspected, which means you can ask to see a copy of its most recent report.

Send your family travel queries to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS or e-mail

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam