A Mexican Supporters Group in the United States
Meet Pancho Villa's Army, the first U.S.-based supporters group for the Mexican national team and possibly the only one anywhere in the world. ASN speaks with founder Sergio Tristan.
BY Noah Davis PostedAlthough Sergio Tristan grew up in the United States, served in the American military, and currently works as a lawyer in Austin, Texas, he—like many Mexican-Americans—supports El Tri. But while he frequently attended the team's games when they played on U.S. soil, he never felt a sense of togetherness. Inspired by the massive success of groups such as the American Outlaws, Sam's Army, and other U.S. national team supporters clubs, Tristan set out to create a similar organization for Mexican fans. "[The idea came from] a wish to get some camaraderie at the game. Even though Mexican fans fill the stadium up, it's hard to give a high five to a family of five. We were thinking about how we could make the game experience better, and we came up with the idea of Pancho Villa's Army," he said during a Sunday afternoon phone conversation with ASN. The group, which is in its infancy but is growing on Twitter and Facebook faster than Tristan expected, finds itself in a rather unique situation. It might be the only SG for Mexico in North America. The founder again: "There is really not a Mexico national team support group in Mexico. When Mexico plays, the entire country is behind it. You just know it's always packed. We were really surprised at that. We are really the only support group for Mexico." Membership costs $20 for the year, plus a $5 shipping fee for the membership card. (Because what is a club without a cool membership club?) Benefits include hosted viewing parties for all Mexican national team games, voting rights in the group's decision-making process, and discounted merchandise. Eventually, Tristan hopes to offer discounted tickets to matches and possible access to the players. He wants to reach out to the Mexican Federation to make the small barra more official. The group plans to make trips to an upcoming game in San Francisco, as well as possible expeditions to the U.S.-Mexico match in September and October's World Cup qualifier in Costa Rica. While Tristan says the response has been mostly positive, especially from people who share his background, some U.S. national team supporters have taken affront and attacked the group on Twitter and Facebook. There are the typical fans telling him to support the U.S., but that's only the beginning. "You have a little bit more extreme ones, saying we should deport you guys and telling me all kinds of stuff," he says. "I expected some people to tell us that we were in the U.S. and we should love this country. I did not expect people to tell us to go back to Mexico and that we don't want you here." So that's awful. The members of Villa's Army, however, know they can only control their side of the equation. "Our message is that we are here to support Mexico. We're not here to hate on anyone," he says. "Our job is not to run around and bash the U.S. men's national team." In fact, there might even be some common ground. In his first blog entry for the Villa's Army site, Tristan explains why he thinks Rafa Marquez has to go. We told you everyone can get along. Noah Davis is ASN's deputy editor.
January 21, 2013
January 21, 2013