What is a Supporters’ Group?
Learn about the team behind the team
Austin Anthem is a supporters’ group. Maybe you are new to soccer and have never heard this term before, or perhaps you have a loose idea of what it means. On its surface, a supporters’ group (SG) is a group of dedicated fans who are committed to cheering on their club to victory. Phil West, the Austin-based author of The United States of Soccer, which chronicles the history of Major League Soccer, expands on that a little bit.
Supporters’ groups are a self-appointed group of superfans who gather hours before the match in revelry and proudly stand the entirety of the match to cheer the team on. Think of a cross between your favorite college football tailgaters, the A&M yell leaders, and the wildlings from Game of Thrones, and picture them all holding scarves aloft like they were banners. They’ve been vital to MLS shaping a unique identity in both the American sports landscape and in global soccer.
However, there are many other functions of an SG that go beyond yelling in the stands each week. So we would like to define what a fan group like this is, and propose some of the characteristics we would like to see in our group as we prepare for our first season supporting Austin FC.
Who We Are
We are diverse and inclusive. We are black, white, Latinx, and Asian. We are gay, straight, bisexual, female, male, transgender, and questioning. We hold different religious and political beliefs. We are families, single, married, young, old, and everywhere in between. We are neurologically and physically diverse. We are not tolerant of violence, intimidation, hate, discrimination, bullying and intimidation online or in person. We are respectful and tolerant of those that are different than us. We are the independent, volunteer-run, non-profit Austin Anthem Supporters Group for Austin FC. We are The Song of Our City.
On game day, we want to be heard, seen, and felt from before the match begins to after the final whistle. How can we do this?
- Be loud and be organized. One way we can achieve this is by working together to create chants and songs (in English and Spanish), about the club, city, or specific players, that are easily recognized and teachable. Our SG will create these cheers and be responsible for teaching them to anyone who would want to attend a game. From the supporters section, which will have close to 3,500 safe standing spaces at the Austin FC stadium, we will lead the crowd in these cheers. We are creating a Murga-style band to help lead the supporters in song and chant that will include drums and brass.
- Lead a march to the stadium. We can establish the tradition of marching into the stadium from a nearby meeting place, while singing, and proudly displaying our gear. This can set the tone for the day, and begin the process of creating an atmosphere as we arrive at the stadium.
- Create Tifos to artistically display our pride. Tifo in Italian means a choreographed show of support. They can be quite large and impressive banners, or mosaics made up of cards held up by individuals in a supporters’ section. We will need a dedicated team that is willing to spend a good deal of time and effort on designing, creating, and implementing our Tifos.
Members of the SG will be interested in travelling to away matches and having a nice excuse for a quick vacation and exploration of another MLS city. What will make this experience even better is a team on the SG dedicated to planning trips and travel accommodations for members that will want to travel together. Think discounted blocks of hotel rooms and flights, along with night before parties at local bars.
For those of us not travelling to a specific away fixture, we will want to get together and cheer on our squad at a local watering hole. We will need people to work with local bars to reserve seats and to promote the events online.
One of the most beautiful things about sport is its ability to bring people together and energize them. We can take that and make it about more than just cheering on a soccer team. Let’s work together to partner with local charities and causes that are near and dear to our hearts, and use our SG to support and improve our community. We will need a team dedicated to maintaining relationships with these organizations, planning events, and promoting them.
Also, we can use our group’s reach to spread our love for the game to every part of this amazing city. Not only can we be a part of seeing our club succeed by doing this, we can also help grow the game in the United States.
And We’re Just Getting Started
These are just some of our ideas on what we believe a Supporters’ Group is all about, and how we expect it to function in Austin. However, we realize we have limited perspectives and experiences and we want to hear from many of you about what you would want and what you would not want your Supporters’ Group to be. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts and ideas.
Austin Anthem is the independent supporters’ group for Austin FC, the Major League Soccer club of Austin, Texas.
For more information, visit us online at AustinAnthem.org