Created:Monday, May 7, 2012 5:30 a.m.CDT
Updated:Monday, May 7, 2012 9:21 a.m.CDT
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NIU's Carr taking game to South Africa

By STEVE NITZ - snitz@shawmedia.com
Northern Illinois goalkeeper Amy Carr works out on the NIU soccer field Thursday in DeKalb. Carr is traveling to South Africa this summer to hold youth soccer camps. (Rob Winner — rwinner@shawmedia.com)

DeKALB – Amy Carr does a lot of things in the spur of a moment.

That, combined with the fact that the Northern Illinois goalkeeper always has wanted to give back to the soccer community, will lead the Hemel Hempstead, England, native on her latest journey.

Carr already has represented England in numerous international tournaments, including the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in New Zealand. There, she was part of an English national team that finished in fourth place. Coming across the Atlantic Ocean to the States to play for NIU, she has started 35 games for the Huskies during her freshman and sophomore seasons.

Knowing she still is young and wondering how much time she had to explore the world of sports, Carr decided she wanted to take herself on an adventure that would help her give back to the game that’s given her the opportunities she’s had.

Over the winter, she went to travellersworldwide.com, which sends volunteers all over the world when it comes to sports, as well as other fields such as conservation, medicine and teaching.

With the click of a mouse, Carr arranged to travel to South Africa during the summer. There, she’ll work as a physical education teacher at a school outside Cape Town. Carr will help teach children ages 7 to 16 the fundamentals of soccer, as well as other sports that are popular in South Africa, such as cricket and rugby.

“I’ve always been looking for this open window of opportunity to go and do something somewhere, but it just, it was kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing over winter break and I thought, why not?” Carr said. “Just kind of pushed the button online without thinking too much about it.”

Carr will leave London for Cape Town on May 17 and stay there for four weeks. When her work is done, Carr will head to Port Elizabeth for a five-day wildlife safari “to treat herself” before heading back home to England. A month later, she’ll be back in the United States in time for the start of the Huskies’ preseason practices.

As someone who has had soccer take her many places and give her numerous opportunities, Carr wanted a way to be able to give back to the game, and teach younger players what she has learned and how they can transform what they pick up in soccer into their future.

“I’m just looking forward to meeting all the kids and trying to influence as many people as I can and share my experiences,” said Carr, who was able to save money for the cost of the trip, and also is getting help from her parents. “I’ve had so many experiences for someone my age.”

Carr’s South Africa soccer experience is only a month, but eventually, Carr said she’ll consider going into coaching full-time.

Carr has previous experience coaching youths, as she worked for a coaching company in England that taught kids multiple sports before coming to North America.

In the United States, collegiate sports are played with more popularity and at a higher level than they are in England, Carr said. When Carr arrived, she saw how college soccer coaches were able to make a living coaching, something that isn’t the case in England, according to Carr.

“I didn’t realize you could be a soccer coach at a major university and make a career out of it until I came here,” Carr said, “so I would love to stay here and work my way up the coaching ladder and take a D-I team to the NCAA (tournament) and progress and teach people what I’ve been taught.”

She said she has talked to former NIU coach Carrie Barker and current coach John Ross about getting into coaching.

Next spring, Ross plans to run a program to help all of his players get their “D” coaching licenses from the United States Soccer Federation. The “D” licenses certify players to coach at the U-14 level and below. Carr said she will pick up some coaching hours at the youth level after she gets her license.

Ross said being a goalkeeper will be a big asset when Carr works her way up the coaching ranks.

“It’s a specialized position. Typically each coaching staff has somebody who specializes in goalkeepers,” Ross said. “Typically it’s something that, it’s not the easiest thing to find, a good goalkeeper coach.”

Ross says Carr has the tools to be a college coach, pointing out that she has the patience and the personality for it, as well as a good understanding of the game of soccer.

In South Africa, Carr will get to use that soccer knowledge in an unfamiliar country, something Ross said will only benefit her in the long run.

“I’m all for her, just to get out and go help in a different culture. I think It is just great for her,” Ross said. “The life lessons she’s going to learn are just unbelievable.”

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