Croatia and Cameroon played the final game of the day in Group A pool play Wednesday in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
But in Belton, “Croatia” and “Cameroon” kicked off Wednesday morning as part of the Belton youth soccer camp run by Belton boys soccer coach Tarcisio Mosnia.
Mosnia has been conducting camps for 38 years, including all nine since he took over the boys program at Belton.
But this year, with the World Cup coinciding with the camp, Mosnia has made a point to have his campers emulate the games being played in Brazil, dividing them into teams that will play that day.
He even gives the campers the names of prominent players on the international teams, in hopes they will try to emulate the ones playing on the biggest stage in the world.
“This way they feel like they’re a part of the whole thing,” Mosnia said. “That’ll make them go home and probably watch and maybe even practice.
“And I told them that that’s what they needed to do: Practice some of the skills that they learned in the camp in between the World Cup games.”
Mosnia has worked for Eastern Illinois University as well as the United States Soccer Federation teaching the game he loves.
But he said teaching the younger kids is a unique experience that he particularly enjoys.
“I just enjoy being with the kids,” Mosnia said. “It keeps me young, and it keeps me happy in life because I’m doing something that I enjoy doing.
“And I like to give something back, especially with the little kids. They just want to learn, and they like to be trained.”
Last week, the camp consisted of elementary-aged kids with 24 participants. This week, junior high players participate in the camp, which ends today.
The four-day camp has run each day since Monday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Mosnia has been teaching the young players the fundamentals of the game as well as strategy.
“What we try to do is to have the kids enjoy themselves, make it fun, as much as possible, to where they learn skills,” Mosnia said. “For example, last week we had the younger-age group kids and that was all skill work. And this week, we’ve been doing the older-age group, which is the junior high group, and we’ve been doing skill work for two-thirds of the sessions. The last one-third would be tactics.”
Mosnia said soccer appears to be growing in Belton as it is all over the United States.
And it certainly helps when there are World Cup games taking place at the Belton youth soccer camp.