Fargo-Moorhead's largest youth soccer clubs to merge
FARGO - Two of the area's largest youth sports clubs plan to merge on Monday to create an even larger organization. The Red River Soccer Club and Moorhead Youth Soccer Club will become the Tri-City Storm, making it the area's largest youth soccer...
FARGO - Two of the area's largest youth sports clubs plan to merge on Monday to create an even larger organization.
The Red River Soccer Club and Moorhead Youth Soccer Club will become the Tri-City Storm, making it the area's largest youth soccer organization with about 2,500 members.
"In conversations with Moorhead, we both decided this is in the best interest for soccer players in both our organizations," said Eric Pauly, president of the Red River Soccer Club, which mainly serves players in Fargo. "It gives a larger opportunity for kids at the recreational level and it is also in an effort to keep our costs down."
Today, the Fargo-Moorhead area has four youth soccer programs: Red River, Moorhead, Fargo Soccer Club, and the West Fargo Soccer Club.
Fargo Soccer Club and West Fargo Soccer Club will remain independent.
Tri-City would welcome players from Moorhead, Fargo and West Fargo. It's still unclear which state association the club might align with.
The merger would leave Moorhead without its own city-defined club.
Noel Nyborg, president of the Moorhead club, said open enrollment allows for players from all over the metro to play at any club of their choice.
"We have players in West Fargo in our program and at Red River just like you have players from Moorhead playing at West Fargo," Nyborg said. "We're not restrictive at all. We are trying to create the best environment we can."
Nyborg said the benefits of a merged club include lower registration costs and the ability to hire more trained coaches.
Pauly said the Tri-City Storm would use the fields at Moorhead's soccer complex and at the Pepsi Soccer Complex in Fargo.
In recent years, separate youth soccer clubs in Bismarck and Sioux Falls, S.D., merged as one.
Red River president Pauly said that years ago all of Fargo-Moorhead youth soccer fell under one umbrella organization.
"We looked at when FM Soccer was going in our area for recreation soccer," he said. "We had all of the kids playing together on Saturdays under one umbrella and we felt like that was the one situation for our kids where they have many opportunities to play as much soccer as they desire."
Pauly said most parents he's talked to see the merger as a positive move, but he knows that not everyone will agree.
"We're hoping that we can offer what people are looking for," he said. "We know there have been groups of people that have gone searching for other clubs. We hope that they wouldn't do that but, right now, we don't know what will happen next."
Pauly said the goal is to provide youth soccer players a variety of options at the recreational and competitive levels. Recreational soccer players tend to practice less often and not travel for games. Competitive players practice more often and travel for games.
The president of Fargo Soccer Club is not happy with the impending merger and says it could violate the national organization's mandate for inclusion.
Matt Noah won a national grievance in 2008 that claimed kids in his club weren't given fair opportunities to play teams in other area clubs.
He believes a merger of the two larger clubs in town is a way for them to exclude his 500-member club from participating in recreational games.
"I feel that they want to dominate the local recreation league," Noah said. "And they'll choke us off. That's why there are bylaws that say this isn't in the best interest of fair play."
Pauly was informed of Noah's feelings and told The Forum that Fargo Soccer Club players are welcome to play in the new recreational league.
West Fargo representatives met with Red River and Moorhead officials and decided that joining the larger club was not in their best interest, said Chris Pederson, president of the West Fargo Soccer Club.
He said West Fargo has a "lot of things in the works" and they feel comfortable with the vision that has been developed for their program.
Pederson said he didn't see the merger as a threat to West Fargo's program.
"We view it as it is the player's choice," Pederson said. "And from West Fargo's perspective ... we're more based on the fundamentals of soccer and developing sportsmanship."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.
Clark's Force blog can be found at http://slightlychilled.areavoices.com/ .