As a Brit who has lived here in Tucson for over 10 years, I used to miss the “supporter culture” of soccer — as I am now resigned to calling it.
Whether it was going for a couple of beers before the game with friends, talking tactics and starting line ups, arguing during the match about whether a goal was offside or not, a bit of “banter” with the opposing fans, that whole experience was something I yearned for and it was only resurrected on the occasional trip back across the pond.
Not any more.
In no time at all, FC Tucson has firmly placed itself on the map of sports in Arizona through its accomplishments on the field, including underdog victories over professional teams, as well as off the field. A growing number of supporters make it one of the better supported clubs in the PDL (Premier Development League); it’s a passionate group of fans that I’ve joined.
Not everyone in the city knows about FC Tucson yet, but it’s still early. The 2014 World Cup in Brazil will once again bring soccer to the fore on a national level, so it is likely that FC Tucson too will see a surge in interest.
Soccer will become the biggest sport in the U.S. It is just a matter of time. The FIFA (the governing body of world soccer) estimates the U.S. men’s national team will have four times as many fans at games in Brazil as any other country. One in three Americans will follow the World Cup on TV, (that’s over 100 million people), a huge advance from 30-40 years ago.
The youth game in America is enormous, with a generation of parents coming through who are fans of the sport and know more about it.
So I say to the local soccer community, rather than yell at youth players and officials, come and make some noise for FC Tucson instead!
To the rest of the sports community and to the city of Tucson at large — come and support your local team and who knows, in a few seasons’ time, we may have a professional team to call our own.