Ask Not What Your Team Can Do For You! Ask What You Can Do For Your Team.
People always ask, “what can I do to help AC STL?” I always respond with, “I don’t know, what can you do?” I’m not trying to be a smart ass, but really, what are your talents? The easiest and probably best thing we can all do for the club is to bring more people with us to the games. Every week there are ticket deals that allow you to pick up seats for friends at ridiculously low prices. Make sure you “like” AC St. Louis, TheGrapevine Soccer Network, Floodplain Footy, and any other supporter group on Facebook or follow them on Twitter to get all the info on these deals. You can also use the Free Beer Movement method. This involves getting people to try the game with the promise of free beer- click HERE for more on the Free Beer Movement. It’s a simple premise, invite a friend to a game and buy them a beer. A lot of people will do anything for a free beer. The hope is they’ll enjoy the game and come back on their own and bring some of their friends. Be smart about inviting people to the games. If you invite a family with kids, don’t bring them to the supporters corner. Make sure you recommend the best area for your friends to enjoy the game- if they don’t enjoy it they won’t come back.
When you’re looking for friends to invite, start with the easy targets. If you know a friend that watches European soccer or an ex-Pat, that’s an easy target. Unfortunately a lot of people in St. Louis still don’t know there’s a professional soccer team in town. Some people would love to come if they just knew about it. Other people to try are parents of kids that are into soccer. A lot of us have kids that play- ask around at the kids game if anybody wants to go see pro soccer. It’s a lot cheaper to bring the family to an AC STL game than it is to go to a Cards, Rams, or Blues game. Maybe the parents would enjoy seeing what the kids are trying to do and maybe the kids would enjoy seeing soccer played at a much higher level than their CYC or YMCA league. Also if you know anybody at your local High School- give them a flyer to put up for the school soccer teams or give to the coaches. After you go through your soccer connections, try the sports fanatics. The guys that love to watch NFL all Sunday and drink a few beers would make perfect Louligans. College aged kids that are looking for a party would also be good candidates for a Saturday night at Soccer Park- think of it as a pre-party before they go out.
Next step- be noticed. Once you’re at the game, go crazy. Make as much noise as possible. Sing the songs, do the chants, and create mayhem. Get a Vuvuzela (as much as I hate them), a party horn, a drum, a trumpet, you get the idea. Scream your fool head off. Don’t like yelling, get a flag and wave it like my boys in section 18. Bring some confetti and make it rain when we score a goal. If there’s an opponent in your corner trying to concentrate- get in his head. Talk about his mom, all is fair in soccer. Do anything to make others around you get into the game too. If we all sat on our hands the games would be boring. You don’t have to have a megaphone like Liz, but you do have to get loud.
OK, so after you’ve found some people to come to the games, what else can you do? Again it goes back to talents. Do you enjoy taking photographs? Take a bunch of pictures at the game and post them on Facebook for people to see. If people see some great pictures (of the game or the fans) they may want to come out and be a part of it all. Same with video- if you like to play with editing videos on your computer, take some footage of a game and put together a video that might get people excited about the game. Post them on your personal pages and any fan sites that will take them. Are you a writer? Write an article about any aspect of the game and submit it to this site or to any other site and ask them to post it. Or just start your own blog or post it as a note on your personal facebook page. Share it with friends and fans and get it out there. It also goes without saying that networking with fans you meet at the game will go a long way. I’ve only met a couple of bad apples in our group. Everybody else has been amazing and we all have different backgrounds. I’ve made a lot of really good friends at the game and then I’ve become friends with some of their friends. Now when I post something on my facebook page it reaches out beyond my normal circle. Who knows how far your message can reach.
Other things you can do to help the team? Paint a banner or a sign. Get a cheap sheet at WalMart or some fabric at a craft shop and go to town. Think of a funny saying or a soccer related saying and paint it on the banner. I use a little craft projector to project the image or words on the sheet and then draw it out and paint it on the sheet. Trust me, the fans on the other side of the field see them and the players feel the love. Dufty loved the Duftman banner we painted and it encourages him when he sees that banner. Pick your favorite player and make a banner for him- he’ll thank you for it. Make a banner that just says “GOAL” and hold it up when we score. If you want any more info on painting banners just hit the “Contact Us” tab and ask away.
Come up with a chant or a song and teach your friends or bring it to one of the more outspoken fans in the corner and we’ll try to get it going. Have fun and be creative. Mandie has been doing her part by printing up song/chant sheets for everyone. I’d be glad to pass it on to her for inclusion in the next batch (or you can just give it to the green-haired girl). 🙂 And speaking of Mandie, she’s been great at just doing things like handing out stickers and cards to the other side of the park. We want to get the whole stadium into the movement.
I always try to have some buttons or stickers in my pocket to give to kids. I’ve bought Soccer ball whistles at a Party store for 99 cents and handed them out on my way in. Those kids will blow those whistles the entire game and have a ball. It helps get more noise into the stadium and will guarantee they ask their parents to come back. We want to be crazy fans, but not scary. In the corner all the rules go out the window, but when you’re in the other parts of the park be as friendly and outgoing as possible (and easy on the swear words). If you see somebody or a couple of people sitting by themselves near your area, introduce yourself. You never know who you’ll meet. I met an investor in the team that way.
There are lots of things that can be done to improve the atmosphere and get more people to the games. There are only 4 more home games this season so let’s crank up the volume and get as many people out to the game as we can. Let’s end this first season on a high note and hit the ground running next season. I’ll see you all at the next game and if we haven’t met, come up and introduce yourself- I’m the guy in the stupid hat.