Men’s club soccer competes in Texas Region Championships


Courtesy of Shea McGrinder

The men’s soccer team traveled to Austin, Texas last weekend to compete in the Region IV Championship.

The Tulane men’s club soccer team made its way to Austin, Texas, this past weekend for the Region IV Championships. The team brought home the state championship earlier this season after a 6-0 win over McNeese State and a 3-0 win over LSU, which qualified it for a spot at regionals. After defeating Lone Star College-North Harris 2-1 and losing to Baylor 0-1 in the first pool of last weekend’s championships, the Green Wave ultimately fell to Texas 0-3 in the single elimination pool.

This was the first regional tournament in which the team has ever competed. The team previously struggled with a variety of issues, including funding and forfeits due to travel and attendance problems, which prevented its members from competing in state-level and other competitions in the past. To cover entrance fees and expenses this year, the team created a GoFundMe that raised $3,565 — of a $3,500 goal — in just 10 days.

“For everyone’s university career this was the biggest step, and everyone stepped up to the plate and delivered …” student coach Ibrahim Belkhouche said. “We didn’t have the legs at the end. A lot of teams were more physically capable than us. But besides that, everyone did very well.”

Last year the men’s team was coached by public health graduate student Billy Boyer. Boyer left this year to participate in the Peace Corps in Belize and passed the leadership on to junior Belkhouche and senior Shea McGrinder, who is a captain of the team.

“Billy, he was a very good coach, but unfortunately, we didn’t show him the commitment we should’ve,” Belkhouche said.

Boyer’s departure left the men’s team on unstable footing, with few consistent members and a leadership team with little experience.

“We learned what we had to do to run the club,” McGrinder said. “We weren’t really taught. We ran into some issues that people stopped showing up when we were supposed to be trained, and so we couldn’t be trained, and how to do administrative stuff. So we ran into issues and people didn’t really want to deal with it and weren’t taking it seriously, so this year we kind of had meetings in the beginning of the year and talked to everyone.”

“Last year we would show up and there would be like six guys. It would be worthless to show up. And now we’ve consistently gotten numbers to train every week,” Belkhouche said.

The team’s increased dedication has allowed for its newfound success this year. McGrinder and Belkhouche said they hope to capitalize on that success and utilize it in moving the team forward even more.

“Hopefully, we’ll just build on this, and guys will see that this is a real team now,” Belkhouche said. “We’ve been kind of looked at as a joke in the past. But hopefully they’ll see this as an opportunity to play high-level soccer, go back to regionals next year and hopefully win it, and built something even for the future after I’m gone, he’s gone, but the new kids will keep doing that and we’ll actually establish a proper soccer club.”