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Krupa and his wife, Gail, recently finished their 20th year of conducting soccer camps in Heidelberg, Germany. Krupa played and coached NCAA Division I soccer and played professionally. He teaches physical education in Montgomery County, Md., schools.

Why doesn’t soccer catch on as a spectator sport in the States? Soccer is such a player-oriented sport. People in the U.S. are too oriented to seeing a basket made every 10 seconds or seeing the ball thrown for six points. They’re not used to seeing a great strike at the goal.

What don’t Americans get about soccer? I don’t think they appreciate the speed or the ability of these players, both men and women, to deal with this ball under pressure. Unless you understand the techniques, let alone the tactics, you can’t appreciate what these people are doing. They don’t see the probing of defenses.

How is soccer like basketball? [Basketball inventor James] Naismith wanted an activity his players could do in the wintertime that was practicing for soccer. It started off simply as a passing game. But that wasn’t as interesting for the players, so he came up with this peach basket and said, “We’ll throw it in the goal.” And they had to get a way for them to move, so he said, “We’ll bounce the ball.” Even the markings on a soccer field are identical to a basketball court.

David Beckham to America: What do you make of all this? I hope it has an effect on people going and watching the matches. I don’t think it’s going to change soccer in the United States. He is a very good player, a great player if you would. When you hear him speak, he is a footballer. He is very much a goal-maker. When he plays out on the flank, [teammates] can see a space and know the ball is coming into that space at the right pace and on the right foot, and [Beckham] would put the ball there. He still does that as well as anybody.

What’s it like to coach the children of deployed troops? I’ll do a coaching session back in the States in our area, and they’re very competitive teams. The parents or kids come and they do the training session, they work hard, and that’s it. Here, the parents come in the morning and greet you. And, not that you want anything, but we have parents here that’ll bake for you a banana bread and tell you they’re appreciative of you. And they’ll ask, “How are you doing?” “Where are you staying?” It is actually embarrassing for [both wife Gail and him]. We really appreciate what [families of deployed troops] are doing. Here is a man or woman in uniform who just got back from Iraq — we are the ones on the appreciative side.

Denis KrupaAge:61Title: Kuk Sool Won senior grand champion in EuropeTitle: Conducts Heidelberg Youth Services Soccer Camps

Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to: news@mail.estripes.osd.mil


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