What is a supporters’ group? At the core, it’s a group of people who have a common goal to lift their team to greatness. In the soccer (football) world that translates to a group that stands behind and with their club no matter what. Supporters are the loudest voices in the stadium and our mission is to bring everyone in with us so we’re the loudest in the country. We are a diverse group with a common goal.
Supporters’ culture means many things – standing, singing, scarves, flags, smoke, drums. But most of all it means unity. The group united in song, the city united in its support for the team, the team united to win.
We asked some of the members of our group what being a supporter means to them. It means starting something from the ground up. It means getting involved before something is even real. It means giving something to the cause – time, money, passion.
Here are some of our supporters’ stories.
When I started following the Canadian Women’s National team I earned my stripes as a Canadian National Team Supporter when I stuck around even after their dismal finish at the 2011 FIFA World Cup. In 2012 I watched along with the rest of the country as the team won an Olympic Bronze medal, but I was still oblivious to supporter culture.
In 2013 the “Rematch” between Canada and the USA was scheduled for BMO field. I found the Voyageurs website and was intrigued. I signed up for the site and paid for a membership immediately. But I didn’t buy tickets in the supporters’ section because I felt intimidated, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I attended that game sitting on the sidelines, but I was so impressed with the atmosphere the Voyageurs brought to the stadium.
In 2013 I started supporting the Portland Thorns of the NWSL and I travelled to the closest cities (Rochester and Chicago) whenever the Thorns played. When they made the Championship game in Rochester I joined The Rose City Riveters to stand with them. That game was a revelation for me. The Riveters were so welcoming even though I was a stranger. I stood and sang along and I felt part of something bigger. We were a group of maybe 20 and we drowned out a stadium that was packed with Western New York Flash fans. I was invigorated with the knowledge that even a small group of passionate supporters can make an incredible impact. And I was no longer worried if I would fit in to a supporter section. I knew that all I needed was passion for the team.
I was lucky to be a supporter in Brighton, Glasgow, and at Scotland National team games in the United Kingdom. There the love of the game is life to them. While I lived in Squamish, BC, I fell in love with the Southsiders, a supporters group with the Vancouver Whitecaps and I learned all the songs and dances. What a supporter means to me is showing love to your team, being able to be a cheeky monkey, creating dances, and most importantly, having fun.
My first experience with supporters was at a FIFA World Cup qualifier at Swangard Stadium in 1997. Yes, that was a game in the Hex, and Canada was playing the US. Unfortunately, we lost, and were eliminated from the competition. But there were a handful of fans in the stand near us who were singing. It was clever, organized, and I was hooked. I’ve traveled across the country watching national and professional games and I always choose to sit in the supporters’ sections. I love the common goal of getting behind the team. I love how our individual voices create a bigger, stronger voice for the players. I’m excited to support the team, to be part of something bigger, and to use my voice to lift the team no matter what.
Winnipeg has had a long and windy soccer history and the River City has seen some great moments with the beautiful game. We have also have seen our fair share of footy heartbreak. From the Winnipeg Fury closing up shop in the mid 1990’s to the abysmal attempt to bring professional indoor soccer with the Winnipeg Alliance of the Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League from 2007-2011.
However, there is no better time than now for Winnipeg to embrace change, and give professional soccer another chance. Another chance for a pro team to seek glory. Another chance to see stars in the making who local players can look up to. Another chance to create the next Tony Nocita’s of the 21st century. A chance to build a pro team which can reach the masses of all income levels and ethnicities in this very diverse city. As part of Red River Rising since 2017, I believe now is the perfect time for “The Beautiful Game” to come back to River City. What are we waiting for Winnipeg?
Being a soccer supporter is very special to me as it’s something really unique and truly special. When you become a supporter, you become a part of not only a fan club, but also a culture that is different than anything. You become a part of an extended family.
We’re ready for the team in Winnipeg and the Canadian Premier League. But we still want your help.
This is what we’re asking of others in Winnipeg and Manitoba.
- Learn about the Canadian Premier League.
- Learn about supporters’ culture.
- Learn about Red River Rising.
- Join us.
Because we will Rise Together.