RIFLE – Like just about any athlete their size, they’ve been told they’re too small. However, tiny twins Pablo and Ricardo Salgado have found their niche with Rifle’s boys soccer team. “These are my wonder twins,” teammate Garrett Babcock said with a proud grin, resting his hands on the shoulders of the 5-foot, 90-pound midfielders.What the 16-year-old starters lack in size they make up for in hustle and talent.”They have incredible skills,” Bears coach Mark Knighton lauded. “Their ball-handling skills, their vision of the game. They know what plays to make.”That could be because they’ve played the game since they were 9 years old, or because they’re students of the international game. Most likely, it’s a blend of the two. One thing’s clear: Pablo and Ricky love the game of soccer.When they’re not zooming around the pitch, they’re catching games on television. Find them a Spanish League or English Premier League game to watch and they’ll be happy.Immersing themselves in the sport has paid off, not only for Pablo and Ricky, but also for the Rifle Bears. They didn’t get a ton of playing time as sophomores last year, but this season’s a different story with the two starting as outside midfielders.
“We tried to get them in a position where they have space, because they’re not necessarily as effective where they’re getting bumped around a lot,” Knighton said. “Once they get a little space and room to move, they’re pretty deadly.”And, Pablo being a natural lefty and Ricky a natural righty, their outside spots complement each other perfectly. The fact they kick with an opposite foot makes sense if you have a chance to talk to the two. It doesn’t take long to figure out that looks and a mutual affinity for soccer are about the only things Pablo and Ricky share.Pablo’s a talker. Ricky’s quiet and a bit shy. Pablo’s favorite soccer player is Ronaldinho. Ricky’s is Cristiano Ronaldo. Pablo’s favorite subject in school is drawing. Ricky’s is English.And they insist they don’t think on the same wavelength like some twins claim.The Salgado brothers are definitely individuals, and that’s the way they seem to like it.Keeping their fingers crossed for a growth spurt
While the twins’ mother is about 4-foot-9, their father’s in the neighborhood of 5-foot-10, leaving hope for a growth spurt in the not-too-distant future.”Hopefully,” they said in unison.Regardless of what the future holds, Pablo and Ricky are making the most of the card they’ve been dealt. And they enjoy catching people off guard and showcasing that immense talent can be housed in a tiny frame.”People say, ‘Oh no, you’re too small. You can’t play,'” said Pablo, who like his brother has the skill set to compensate for lack of size. “It’s ball movement, the dribble. I like to do that.”Those skills have netted the twins their share of goals and assists this season. Both have a fantastic touch on their crosses and shots. One game this season in particular stands out for them, though.In a Sept. 8 meeting with Steamboat Springs, each scored a goal – Ricky on a long, well-placed free kick and Pablo on a header in front of the net. It was the first time they’ve netted goals in the same game.It probably won’t be the last time they pull off the feat and, while special, they seem more concerned with winning.”We just try to do everything possible,” Pablo said. “If we can score, we can score.”
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