By Meaghan O’Neal
The Laker/Lutz News Correspondent
FC Tampa Lutz Rangers soccer club had a special guest from across the pond last weekend.
Shane Yates, the youth academy coach from Manchester United, came to Oscar Cooler Sports Complex to share his soccer experience with the Rangers.
Yates has been a soccer player since he was 10 years old. He played professionally for a decade and has spent the last 12 years coaching the next crop of young stars.
“I’ll teach anyone, but I predominately enjoy teaching children,” Yates said.
Yates has travelled around the world doing just that through Manchester United’s prestigious soccer academy in England. He is the second international trainer the Rangers have had for instructional sessions in as many years
Last year, soccer players from Scotland were brought in to teach the club. This year they chose Manchester United because they plan to begin using its curriculum.
The academy in Manchester has been a starting point for many professional soccer players around the world. Mike Connell, the Lutz Rangers’ founder, said their curriculum will help the third-year program improve its players’ technique for upcoming seasons.
Yates’ sessions with the kids is the starting point, which the coaches will carry on, but they also want something else from Manchester — inspiration to become better players.
“The reason we do it is to make sure that our kids understand the level of the game around the world so they can aspire to be that good, because they can get caught up in their little cocoon world but they really need to see the game at a high level,” Connell said.
Zacki Thalji and Roman Holt, two players from the Rangers, were excited to learn from Yates as soccer is their favorite sport. Both agreed they love the sport because of how challenging it is.
Connell hopes things like Yates’ visit will keep the players focused on becoming better soccer players.
“We’d like to think that years from now this was a catalyst that kept them inspired to be better soccer players,” Connell said, “because they’re good players right now, but unless they keep dreaming and unless they keep wanting to be a better player they will get comfortable, and we never want them to get comfortable; we always want them to strive.”
For more information on the Rangers, visit www.fctamparangers.com/.