How Twitter Made Me A Better Fan
I've been a fan of the beautiful game since I was 9 years old. That was when my dad signed me up to play in our local house league in Peterborough. From the first kick I was hooked and played (right back in case you're wondering) at various levels for the next 10 years - only knee issues and a move to a new city (and starting uni) really stopped me from continuing. Well, that and honestly - I was a decent player but at the time had no confidence in my abilities to compete at that level. But that is neither here nor there.
Throughout my life I've watched off & on - mostly EPL, with a side of La Liga & Seria A thrown in for good measure. And of course when it was time for the World Cup & Euro I was entranced & glued to the television. However, through all of this I hadn't paid much attention to the game here in Canada or North America. Then five years ago I got the most amazing Christmas present ever; my parents bought me season's tickets for Toronto's new entry into the MLS; TFC. I can't express how happy this gift made me. A chance to cheer on a team week in and week out; right here in the city I call my home? To go see professional football all the time? Giddy is the best way to express how I felt.
For four years I was faithfully in my seat at BMO - sometimes with a friend in my second seat (or more often as TFC failed to impress - alone) cheering for my team and visiting with my seatmates. I loved every second of it, but after the match was over, that was it, I headed home. I still remained disconnected from the local supporter & footy community. I didn't feel truly part of what was unfolding in front of & around me. That is until this year when my increased participation in social media (thanks twitter!) and a growing desire to learn more about footy culture, both here in Toronto & Canada led me to reach out and participate on a different level.
Due to several blogs (most notably The Yorkies & Waking The Red) and various footy folk on twitter (too many to mention, but you know who you are) I began to ask questions and received actual answers - ones that didn't make me feel like an idiot for asking. I also began to offer my opinions and actually participate in debates about my team, its players, coaching staff and owners. Suddenly, I had an entire group of people who shared my views & my passion, for both my team and the sport. I started reading more, watching more & understanding far more about the beautiful game. I looked forward to each home match with even more enthusiasm as I knew that I had a circle of people with whom I could dissect, lament & celebrate each kick of the ball. Away games meant lengthy discussions on twitter & game threads on blogs.
This led to actually meeting up with several "tweeps" at the TFC/Real Esteli CCL match this past July. From that day forward, home matches meant a beer before to hash out the latest news & offer thoughts on the game ahead. Afterwards often meant heading out to one of the local pubs to celebrate or mourn as the result indicated. What a difference it was to watch with people that shared my passion & joy when things went well and my anger & sorrow when they didn't! This culminated in my seeing my first ever Canadian Men's team WCQ match and watching my home team move on to the next round of the CCL; advancing further than they ever had before. This was made all the sweeter because I was with fellow fans - not sitting on my couch cheering alone or by myself in my seat at BMO. This is what I always thought it should feel like to really support a team; this was what I had wanted from the beginning.
While I don't pretend to know nearly as much as the people I follow, nor the blogs that I read & participate on; I'm learning and in that learning I find that my passion for my team and the sport grows. I'm connected to the football community in my city & country now; I'm a better fan now and all because of 140 characters.