This blog is different. It is very personal and it is a public thank you to “the beautiful game” and the amazing supporters out there. It is a statement that following your passion turns out to be a success when you work in what you love.
I think I started to appreciate football more as a supporter than a spectator around 2 years ago when I moved to England. I gave up my ‘stable professional career’ back in Colombia for something new. Luckily it turned out to be a smart decision.
I came to Manchester and I must admit that my first thought was to experience football in one of the “cathedrals of football” [Old Trafford] and to get to know the Manchester City phenomenon. Come on, it was Manchester, a town where you breathe football!! Thus, regardless of the high prices, I attended both grounds and rapidly became aware of the whole entertainment experience of the Premier League.
After going to some Champions League and Premier League matches, I embarked myself onto the best football experience of all my life: The 2014 World Cup in Brazil. I followed the Colombia National Team during the tournament with my dad. We visited 7 different cities in Brazil and we had a truly father-son bonding experience. Besides taking part in the best historic performance of Colombia in this tournament, I definitely learnt to cherish the connection with all the fans.
Given the absurd hotel prices during the tournament, my dad and I decided to stay with locals. I remember that both in Cuiaba and Fortaleza we stayed in very humble homes, but extremely rich in kindness and passion for the beautiful game. Irene Sousa, a local leader of the Caucaia community near Fortaleza hosted us before the Colombia vs. Brazil match and made us feel at home. That was definitely a sort of experience money can’t buy and I understood how to love football for what it was: a sport that allows us fans to mingle, share and connect around the ball.
After going forward with FanVox, I can say “I saw the light at the end of the tunnel”. I attended the ‘other football’ and went to one of the FC United of Manchester games. I felt alive again. The chants, the pints, the outstanding atmosphere and the sense of belonging made me understand what football is all about.
I had the same sensation when visiting our friends of Altona 93 and watching a HSV match in Hamburg -football is all about supporters getting together around the ball. Same feeling when attending all the summer conferences on the supporter movement around Europe (whether the FSE in Belfast, the SD Scotland in Glasgow, the FSF + Supporters Direct in Manchester, or the Fútbol Popular in Murcia): real football, true supporters. And the many more that will come…
Hence, it does not come down to the good or bad football; it’s been all about the experience of connecting with local and away fans around the beautiful game. Regardless of the technicality of the game, sharing a pint, talking endless hours about football and chanting with supporters is definitely the higher purpose. I believe in #FanPower!
It makes a lot of sense, then, to encourage this sort of experiences by staying with local fans when traveling to watch some football. I’ve been there and even though I connected with fellow fans during the match, I felt quite disconnected and isolated during the previous moments of a game. At Homefans, a new startup I’m part of, we want to change this, so that the match day experience can be definitely enhanced.
On Homefans, traveling fans can stay with locals (rather than in overpriced hotels) to share an experience money can’t buy. Thus, traveling fans can save when booking a room and locals can make extra money with a spare room or couch. But especially, new connections amongst fans are facilitated, so that the real sense of football becomes the top priority. Football is all about fans and I’ll keep combining my passion and dedication for the round ball and towards getting fans together!
There is a new way to continue groundhopping! Now I can say it is indeed “The Beautiful Game”. Thank you football!