Helping young players and themselves on the soccer pitch

Redmond High boys have a passion for the game.

While Redmond High soccer players ran young booters through drills at the Jr. Stangs Summer Camp on a recent Wednesday morning, the older guys were enhancing their skills as well.

They were working together with their teammates and the Mustang coaching staff to help bring the game to life for the boys in grades 3-8.

“This is a great chance for us to give back to the community, spread our soccer knowledge to some younger kids and prepare us for the season,” said senior midfielder and captain Matthew Michalski, whose team finished 11-3-1 overall in 4A contests last season.

Added Kojo Dadzie, a senior winger and captain: “It’s fun to be out here and connect with your teammates again, but also have fun with these kids, who obviously love the game just as much as we do.”

Dadzie noted that the youngsters they were grooming at camp could be part of the Mustangs’ future. Michalski said he’s had a stellar experience with the Mustangs and wants the younger players to not only improve their skills, but to have fun with the game in a safe environment.

“Soccer here, and especially at Redmond, has taught me a lot of dedication. It’s a really competitive program, you have to work hard always to keep your spot and to keep improving and improve the guys around you,” Michalski said.

Displaying confidence and enjoying oneself are two aspects of soccer that Dadzie feels are of utmost importance. If soccer is fun, then players will want to step up their games, he added.

Dadzie has thrived on being a team player and building a Mustang community.

“We play a passing system that’s really effective. It’s really clear that the times that we win games are when we’re together as a team — unified off the field, on the field,” he said.

Much like the United States women’s soccer squad that recently won its second consecutive World Cup championship.

Michalski and Dadzie watched the matches and felt the US squad represented the country well and inspired players and fans while shining on the world’s stage in France.

“I thought their performance was awesome,” said Michalski, who enjoyed watching Carli Lloyd deliver high-quality play at midfield.

For Dadzie, Tobin Heath and Rose Lavelle caught his eye by taking on defenders and nutmegging them. Dadzie likes to watch and then utilize that flashy style when he takes the pitch.

Dadzie said it was inspirational to watch the women notch the World Cup title.

“It’s also good to see everyone else in the tournament catching up,” he said. “It used to be kind of the US only dominating, but a lot of the games were a lot closer this year and I think it’s really great for the sport. It was really entertaining to watch this year, for sure.”