Local youth soccer players dreaming of playing in the pros are getting a taste of professional training during a five-day camp in Waterloo.

The Red Academy of Soccer held a five-day camp at Rim Park hosted by some of the most successful coaches in European soccer.

“My goal is to be a professional soccer player,” said 10-year-old Blake Shepherd.

Kitchener’s Red Academy of Soccer is one place where some of the region’s best young players hone their skills.

“I’ve learned to keep my back to the goal when I’m defending,” said 11-year-old Jack Stewart.

This week the players have been learning from two of the top coaches in the world.

Robin Gibson and Scott Merchison are player development coaches with the Glasgow Rangers - the most successful club in the Scottish Premier League.

Their partnership allows them to coach kids aged 10 to 16.

We really just wanted to provide a unique experience, high-level training, with two professional coaches,” said Peter Mackie, owner of The Red Academy of Soccer.

This isn’t the first time the coaches have travelled internationally to coach Canada’s youth on the pitch.

The pair hosted a similar camp in 2019 but haven’t been able to return due to the pandemic.

“This is the second time I’ve been over here. The minute I got the chance to come here, I jumped to it,” said Gibson.

Gibson says the sport is growing in Canada.

“Canadian football is starting to take off. Soccer has not always been the number one sport. I’m sure one day it will be,” said Gibson.

Some of the kids are flying overseas in November for a residency in Scotland with the Glasgow Rangers.

“I’m really excited it’s going to be a really great opportunity,” said Sheppherd.

The coaches say the skills developed at this camp and during the residency will stay with them throughout their soccer careers