Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - They’ve been playing soccer together since kindergarten, and now the Missoula Strikers FC 2007 (Football Club playing together since 2007) have qualified to play in the elite national tournament in Wichita, Kansas.

I spoke with Natalie Hiller-Claridge on Thursday about the achievement and the very time-sensitive fund raising effort underway.

“One of our boys’ teams qualified for a national tournament,” began Hiller-Claridge. “They went and played in the President's Cup, the far West Regional president's cup in Salt Lake City, and they took first place, which qualified them to attend the National president's tournament. It's our 2000 Boys Tier one Team.”

She explained how the Missoula Strikers achieved this level.

“All of our premier teams play in the Montana Youth Soccer Association League, and they have to qualify for the state cup,” she said. “When they take first or second in our state cup, they can attend these regional tournaments, and so they qualified by winning our state cup, and then they went on to the far West Regional president's cup in Salt Lake, and they were able to win that, and so now they're on to nationals.”

As the name suggests, this team has been playing together since 2007, and now in 2024, they’re headed to the nationals.

“The majority of them have been together for a really long time since they were first, second, third graders,” she said. “They've been playing most of them since they were little. In club soccer, when you stay in a community, you stay in your age group. So generally, these boys have been playing together since they were young kids.”

Hiller-Claridge said the time is short to raise $18,000 to get the team to Wichita, Kansas.

READ MORE: Missoula Fireworks: Rules, Safety Tips, & Celebrating Responsibly

“A couple years back, we did have our oldest age group of girls actually qualify for a national tournament, but they were unable to attend,” she said. “Luckily, these boys are ready to go. The only thing lacking is funding. The tournament is in Wichita, Kansas, and so they've got some money to raise, and that's our big push here. The tournament is July 12, so they don't have a lot of time.”

To donate, contact the Strikers FC at 406-396-9633, or visit their website.

Average Cost of Daycare in Montana & Surrounding States

If you think the cost is ridiculous in Montana, wait until you see how much it is in the surrounding states!

Gallery Credit: Chris Cardenas

More From Newstalk KGVO 1290 AM & 98.3 FM