The Necessity for Soccer Supporter Groups
I strongly believe that every league and team should have soccer supporter groups. One of the things that helped me appreciate and love the game is my fellow fans and supporter groups. They are a necessary part of the game day experience. When I go to MLS games, I know I’ll find a soccer supporter group in a section that helps liven up game day with chants, displays, and dances. The group helps motivate their team and crowd alike to embrace the game. When the game is long over, you can still find many fans from groups congregating somewhere to talk about the game. One may find himself going to a game alone, but the individual will not be lonely for long. Soon, he finds himself cheering along with other members of supporter groups and reveling in the excitement of the game.
Ideally, soccer support groups should be accessible to fans; these fan-based groups help fans around the world connect with each other and most importantly, to the game in the United States. In women’s soccer, many teams do not have supporter groups with few exceptions like the Pali Blues and Tony Danza Army. There is yet to be an overarching supporter group for the US Women’s National Team (USWNT) and immediate availability of supporter groups for all women’s soccer teams like we see for MLS teams and USMNT such as the American Outlaws. Fans of the women’s game may find themselves feeling frustrated because of a lack of information and responses to numerous issues. Fans also may feel alone in sharing their passion for the game.
Likewise, women’s soccer teams find it difficult to draw fans to games as well as get some exposure for their teams. Soccer support groups, then, become more necessary than ever in helping to grow the game in this country. What should be the rationale for supporter groups in the women’s game? To me, soccer supporter groups should serve as an intermediary between the organization and fans. It also is an organized meet up club in which fans can join and partake in game day festivities. Whether or not this type of soccer supporter group is effective is a question that some fans and I find myself asking. Is it realistic? Is it too idealistic?
No doubt fans have differing views on functions of soccer support groups. Nevertheless, they do agree on the need to assist in growing the game by whatever means possible. A standard 21st century soccer team today is involved with community and more so, their fans via community appearances, social media, and other media forms. Team management should, however, see supporter groups as an indispensable resource. Teams should show support to these groups regardless of what sanction status soccer organizations bestow on these groups. Some acknowledgement shows not only good faith and commitment to fans, but also as a way to gain publicity and enhance credibility to the game.
What do you think about women’s soccer supporter groups? Let’s put out heads together and think about future supporter groups for US women’s soccer teams! What do you envision for these supporter groups?