If you’re here at WUFC, I’m hoping you’ve seen the #WomenLoveSoccer hashtag. It shows a whole world of women soccer fans! After browsing the hashtag myself, I felt compelled to get some of those women’s stories out there. We all have our own journeys into the sport, and they all deserve to be shared to inspire more fans. This is M’s story. I met ‘M’ while at a Rapids game in Dallas last year, and she’s fairly well-known in the Rapids Twitterverse. ‘M’ is a grad student, an historical archaeologist, and, of course, “an enormous soccer fan.” Let’s get to know her.
Tell us about your very first soccer game.
Honestly, I don’t know what the first game I watched was. I played growing up and have vague memories of the 1994 World Cup. My first in-person, professional soccer match was a Rapids game at DSGP in… probably 2008? I feel like I should know this, and it’s sort of troubling that I don’t! Haha! I remember watching the supporters in the North Corner for an entire season and thinking, “Man… how do I get over there!? THOSE are my people.”
What team(s) do you follow, and what leagues are they in? How did you start following those teams?
I follow the Rapids, obviously, in MLS, and I support them because they’re my local club. I also support Liverpool in the EPL. I started following them because their fans are the best in the world, it doesn’t matter where they are, they’re singing. I fell hard and fast for Liverpool, but it quickly became apparent that it was stupid not to be supporting my local club with the same passion. I also have a rather half-assed allegiance to Xolos in LigaMX… I picked them because I was bored of following teams that lose all the time, so I picked a semi-corrupt one that my friends didn’t hate simply based on the fact that they were going to win. I have no shame.
What about the game hooked you?
I love the game, and I always have… but it’s supporters culture that hooked me. Once Pid Army [a Rapids supporters’ group, merged with others to create Centennial 38 in 2013] moved to the Terrace, I got really involved with the supporters group, especially with tifo, and fell increasingly in love with the club.
How did you get involved in tifo*?
I went huge on my first project and got involved because Pid Army wanted a huge Colorado flag and I suggested it would be better to sew it than to paint it and volunteered to sew it. It was a little intimidating to work into the existing tifo crew, but I got pretty good at logistics and became a tifo co-captain. My position now is kind of in flux due to a variety of factors. C38 is known for dropping enormous artistic pieces a few times a year, which are usually designed by one person and painted by anyone who wants to help (usually via a Facebook invite) but smaller, meaningful pieces are more my bag. I maintain that my most effective tifo was a series of four “this machine kills corporate tifo” two-sticks, and I’m really proud of some of the smaller pieces I’ve designed for away trips or for the Independent Supporters Councils anti-racist or inclusivity initiatives.
With whom in your life do you share soccer?
For a while, I was a solo soccer fan. My mom likes sports in general and occasionally goes to matches with me, but I also now have a wonderful boyfriend who loves soccer even more than I do. I have brought a couple friends to matches, and they’re now season ticket holders, plus I’ve made some incredible friends within my own SG, and across the league (and really, the world, for that matter), so it really is like a community.
Have you traveled to any away games for your team? Where did you go and what was the experience like?
I almost always go to Salt Lake… quite frankly, it’s terrible. But it’s a rivalry, so that’s kind of the point. I was nearly involved in a fight on the train, I’ve been threatened and followed out of bars, I narrowly avoided being pegged by a metal coffee mug, they put us in a pit for the tailgate, and we have police escorts in and out of the stadium. Because this was my only away experience for two years, going to Kansas City and Portland blew my mind… people invited us to their tailgates and home bars, high-fived us, and bought us beers… it was incredible. Dallas is unbearably hot, but I’ve developed some incredible friendships with supporters there, so that’s a trip worth making, too. (I’m excited for them to come to CO next month!) We’re planning on Seattle and Chicago away this year… the Chicago crew has been awesome when they travel here, and have promised me beer and pizza. I’ll report back.
Do you have any personal soccer-related traditions?
I really don’t… we go to the C38 tailgate before the match. We also celebrate the great tradition of Footy Breakfast. Because we live too far away from any bars that open early for EPL (no, seriously, it’s like an hour and a half, that’s too far), my boyfriend and I spend our weekend mornings on the couch, and whoever’s team isn’t playing is responsible for making Footy Breakfast… yes, that’s a proper noun.
What is the impact soccer has had on your life?
I have made some of the most incredible friends because of soccer, and honestly, they’re people I never would have met without soccer. And yeah, that includes casual drinking buddies you can talk to about the game, but I’m talking about a vast network of pick-you-up-from-the-airport, sleep-on-your-couch, know-your-life, invite-to-your-wedding kind of friends. And they’re not just supporters of my own club, they’re people across the country, and they’re people I can sincerely count on.
If you could tell everyone in the world one thing about soccer, what would it be?
I would tell people it’s awesome, and they should give it a fair shot. I’ve never brought anyone to a game that was like, “you know what, that was terrible, and I hate it.”
Is there anything else we need to know about your love for soccer?
I’m a boss at fantasy footy… but only when I actually remember to play. I found the love of my life through soccer. I have been known to put 60+ hours a week into supporting my club, mostly through making tifo. I will never forgive Brendan Rodgers for getting rid of Danny Agger.
*what’s tifo you ask? Oh, some of the most incredible, intricate culmination of artistry and passion supporters’ groups create. Colorado has quite the reputation for some of the most beautiful.
Thank you to M for answering my myriad questions and for being so awesome! Do you want to share your soccer story with the world? I’m always on the lookout for like-minded women who want to talk soccer with me. Shoot me a tweet @starrphishe and we’ll get to chatting!