By Brad Spencer
The area's two travel youth soccer clubs — the OPRF Strikers and the River Forest Rapids — announced recently that they will merge at all age levels.
The combined club expects to field over 40 teams of players ranging in age from 7 to 18. Officials from both programs said the deeper talent pool will allow the clubs to form more teams, and more competitive teams, at all age levels. The two clubs currently field a unified high school program under the banner of OPRF One.
"A complete merger of the OPRF Strikers and River Forest Rapids is a natural progression from the success we have seen with a combined high school program," said Tim Drane, president of the River Forest Rapids. "Having one club will enable us to develop and field more competitive teams, allow players to train and play with teammates of like abilities, and keep fees from increasing the way they have at other clubs."
The new club will be called the Chicago Edge SC.
"Our coaching directors Murray Findlay and Gavin Richards have been working together well at the high school level," said Steve Gillman, president of the OPRF Strikers. "This allows our communities to join together to build a premier soccer club for players at all ages with the opportunity for a higher level of achievement.
"I'd like to thank the Strikers and Rapids boards and our directors of coaching for working together to make this a reality."
The merger will be effective beginning in May 2012 when open tryouts for next season will be combined.
"Without a doubt this merger will greatly impact our high school program for the better — getting the best community kids playing together early on will not only help their development and chemistry, but will also create a smooth transition to the high school program," said Paul Wright, head coach of the boys program at OPRF High School.
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