How Do You Become More Active Around the 205?
Something every single club in the world questions, or should be questioning, is how to become more active in their community. How do you properly become engrained within the community without overstepping boundaries? How do you get involved without completely destroying the bank balance? I have a couple of ideas.
Support Local (Footy)
Get involved in the local soccer scene. Birmingham Legion FC have a wonderful connection with the Birmingham United Soccer Academy (BUSA), but how do you reach beyond that academy?
Get in touch with local schools, and not just in the Hills. Less than 10 minutes from Protective Stadium lies Carver High School. FC Birmingham has done a wonderful job integrating themselves within that school and community, but why not invite the Carver High School soccer team to a match or to a training session? Better yet? Come to them. Once a year, do a training session with the Carver High soccer teams.
Move past just Carver, once a week, go to a new school. Have a rotation of players that are willing to go coach/train with high schoolers for an hour. Send 5 players once a week to a new school and let the young players learn from professionals. There are many schools in the Birmingham area that are largely forgotten because they don’t live in Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, or Hoover. Get into the communities that need you the most.
Build and Refurbish
Standing on a hill overlooking Protective Stadium is Barker Park. In Barker is a futsal court that looks like something out of a FIFA game. Why not give it a small face lift? Refurbish the “pitch”, put up new nets, add new goals, proper fencing. It’s the community closest to where Legion plays, less than a 5 minute walk from the front gate.
Around these other communities, help build more small sided grounds like futsal pitches or put goals in parks. Why not help build proper pitches in the shadows of Legion Field, the field the 3 Sparks are named after?
I know the fear is, “What if it doesn’t hold up?” “What if things are stolen/damaged?” “What if, what if, what if?” Frankly, getting involved with communities that majority of sporting clubs completely forget and ignore is worth more than any monetary value that could be put on those grounds. You want to grow the game in the United States? Make the game more accessible, for every one.
Provide Discounted/Free Tickets to Local Schools
At schools like Carver, Ramsay, Woodlawn, Huffman, John Carroll, Jackson-Olin, etc., etc., why not invite a high school team out to one match a year? We did BUSA nights on Wednesday that the entire BUSA academy was given free tickets that they wore their jersey to. Open it up and say that certain matches will be JO Night, Hoover Night, Ramsay Night, etc. It gives incentive for players to stick with the sport and gets new eyes on your club.
More Cultural Kits/Collaboration
One of the most passionate fan bases the 3 Sparks have is the Hispanic community, yet I do not believe there has been a Hispanic Heritage kit released. Why not get in touch with a local Hispanic designer and create the most beautiful Hispanic Heritage kit ever released? Let our more passionate fans feel not only represented, but also have something that they can wear with pride.
Same thing with our Juneteenth kit we did years ago. It was a wonderful shirt that fans still love. Let’s talk to the Black community and chat about what they want to see on a Juneteenth kit. Sell it for charity again. It was something amazing that we should continue to push.
Pride Night is the last thing that should not only be celebrated, but also not ignored. The lack of a Pride Night last year spoke volumes last year and many LGBTQ+ members of our club were very hurt by the decision. Soccer in the United States is one of the sports that are accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. It should be a safe space for all communities. Don’t just have a Pride Night, have a proper celebration.
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