Senior’s project helps young soccer players

Brison Manandic starts ‘Cleats for Kids,’ brings in former Portland Thorns player

Camas High School senior Brison Manandic loves soccer. Now, he’s figured out a way to share that passion with other young soccer hopefuls.

For his senior project this year, Manandic launched a charity called “Cleats for Kids” to provide new and gently used soccer shoes to children in need.

“When I was young, my family couldn’t afford to buy proper cleats, so I know what it feels like not to have the right equipment,” Manandic, who grew up in a family with four brothers, said.

His early life experiences motivated him to make a difference.

After coming up with the idea for his senior project, Manandic emailed coaches and reached out to his soccer connections to see if they could donate shoes.

Former Portland Thorns soccer player Kat Tarr — a family friend of the Manandics — donated dozens of brand new shoes. Coaches and Camas teammates also came through.

By late April, Manandic was in the final stage of his senior project, handing those donated shoes to young soccer hopefuls at Lacamas Lake Park.

“It was so cool,” Manandic said. “One little guy really showed his excitement, because all he had to play soccer in was tennis shoes, so the cleats made such a difference. It’s so heartwarming to see that big smile.”

The idea behind the Camas senior’s “Cleats for Kids” program is to encourage others to share, recycle and help young people get outside and play soccer.

“Brison spent so many hours organizing, collecting and distributing cleats to enhance our community,” Manandic’s mother, Tammy, said. “He’s a great role model and mentor and inspires me to be a better mother and person every single day.”

The Manandics are new to Camas, having moved from Vancouver less than one year ago. Last year, Manandic played soccer for Prairie High School. This season, he played goalie for the Camas High Papermakers. At the same time, he played for FC Portland, a club soccer team that trains in Hillsboro, Oregon.

On top of his demanding year-round soccer schedule, the Camas senior is busy taking college classes at Clark College through Camas High’s Running Start program. Manandic will play soccer for Warner Pacific College in the fall and already has enough college credits to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in two years, instead of the usual four.

Manandic’s high school career may be coming to an end, but his Cleats for Kids charity lives on.

“I’m going to keep the Cleats for Kids project going,” he said. “Hopefully, I can expand it.”

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