BELGRADE — Pending MHSA approval, the boys and girls soccer teams at Belgrade will see some new faces from Manhattan this fall.
“We can help their kids out," said Belgrade High activities director Toby Robinson. "They can definitely help our program because we have to grow and this is how we have to do it.”
A few weeks ago, the Manhattan and Belgrade school boards voted that Manhattan players, who don’t have a Tigers soccer program, would be allowed to co-op on Belgrade’s AA teams.
“Manhattan was onboard with it," Robinson said. "It’s the best thing for our players, our program and then community players, our neighbors over in Manhattan, give them a chance to play. Not pull the carpet out from under kids that have been playing their whole life.”
Belgrade found themselves in a pickle last year when they didn’t have enough players to field a junior varsity team after the first couple weeks of the season.
“September 15 was the JV girls last game and they ended up missing their next eight," said Robinson. "You always have things with injuries, trying to swing up and play, it just wasn’t conducive to the safety of the kids in order to keep continuing that way.”
It’s not a bunch of kids going from Manhattan to Belgrade, about five per each team. Enough to make a difference.
“Coaches say we need mid 30s, we were pushing 28 (soccer athletes),” said Robinson.
As for Robinson, he’s glad that kids will have the chance to play and their opponents won’t have to worry about the Panthers not being able to hit the pitch.
“It’s actually really relieving for me, knowing that we don’t have to just go week by week and see if we have to cancel more games this year," he said. "It’s not fair to anybody, let alone the teams we play against who all of sudden don’t have one of those extra games.”