Consider this my coming out party.
No, still not gay.
I am a supporter of the Portland Thorns FC. This is a club that hasn’t played a match yet, that doesn’t even have a full roster, hasn’t sold tickets. But I’m here. And some of my Timbers Army friends are here. And we’re being joined by a few folks we’ve never seen in the North End on a Timbers match day.
And, as we are still deep in Timbers offseason antics, people are shrieking about it on the interwebs.
“You must let it grow organically!”
“Why not use the knowledge and the infrastructure already in place?!”
“Where is the 107ist?!”
See, here’s the thing: I was pretty firmly planted on the “what’s gonna happen is gonna happen” side of things until tonight. I went to the first planning meeting for the Thorns supporters group out of curiosity and my sentimental desire to be there from the beginning. Whatever it becomes, I’ll want to be a part of it, but I was willing to let it “grow organically” as so many other folks are arguing it should.
Then I heard women speak with such passion about not just the Thorns, but about women’s professional soccer and the influence it had on their lives as young women. I heard men speak of the responsibility we have as supporters of a team entering the third iteration of a pro women’s league after the first two leagues folded.
And I changed my mind. We may not have time to grow as the Timbers Army did. And yes, I know there were times when no one was sure there’d be a team to support when the next season rolled around, but with the women’s league? If history is any indication, I’d guess we have two, maybe three years at the very outside to build enough support for this club that will financially justify its continued existence. And in that time, supporters groups in the other seven cities must do the same.
I have no idea what soccer support looks like in Rochester, but here,right now, it looks like a bunch of people yelling at each other on Twitter.
Everyone has an opinion. Anything new is wrong. This new group is *awful* because they’re trying to “force” supporters culture. You don’t want to support the Thorns or take part in the birth of the SG? Well, you might be a misogynist. Or not. Whatever.
Like I said, I was there because I wanted to be there from the beginning, to watch it come together. I wasn’t there for the birth of the Timbers Army so I can’t testify to what all went into the sausage-making then, but I’d guess that there were contentious times. I’d also guess that a lot of the folks shouting about the “forced” nature of this new group weren’t there at the beginning, either.
I met a 14-year old girl named Mo tonight. As far as I’m concerned, she and she alone is the founder of whatever this group becomes. She is our Nevets. You can all buy her a beer in about seven years.
She is why we were there. She’s a Timbers fan and was so excited by the prospect of a women’s team that she designed a scarf for the Thorns, hoping there would be a supporters group that would wear it. She read us words she’d written that were heartfelt and beautiful. She sat quietly in the midst of a bunch of crazy yelling, arguing, swearing people, and she smiled.
She’s the reason that we’re putting this thing together. She and every other young girl who is looking forward to seeing her favorite player take the pitch at Jeld-Wen.
So, you can mock and deride and bitch and moan and tell us we’re doing it wrong if that’s your thing. But I’m guessing Mo doesn’t care and I’m going to try to follow her example.