Season 10 of Toronto FC is a landmark year for the club. Not only has the club been around for a decade, but the fanbase has matured as well. None have been more vocal and identifiable than Toronto FC's supporters groups.
We have already spoken to Inebriatti and the Red Patch Boys about what they bring to the stadium. Today we profile Mel from U-sector and really get a feel for what U-sector are all about.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and the group?
Founded in 2000, U-Sector was formed as a supporters group for the Toronto Lynx who at the time were playing in the A-League. When Toronto FC was announced as an MLS expansion team, it was only natural that its members wanted to lend their support to this team as well.
What brought you onto Toronto FC and soccer, in general?
Apart from many members already supporting the Lynx, many of the newer members we already fans of the game and yearned for a high level, professional hometown team to support. Toronto FC gave them that opportunity.
Are there any values and supporter vision attached to the group?
We're here to support our team. It's that simple. We may not always be the loudest, but we believe there is an ebb and flow to the game, and what we do should match that. We don't want to be loud just to be heard. There's a time and place, and singing about marching onto victory when you're down 3-0 isn't one of them. We feel that there are times we need to let the players know that we're not happy with what we're seeing. Our aim is to light a bit of a fire under them. But at the end of that day we're in the stands, supporting our club.
Tell us about some initiatives the group is involved in?
Along with banner and tifo displays within our own group, we've worked with other supporters' group in the past on larger projects such as the Danny Dichio Thank You Banner. We also have members who regularly support the team on the road, not only in league play but also in CONCACAF Champions League play. Within the community, for the past several years at Christmas, we have adopted 2-3 families through a local church and provided them with food and gifts to make their holiday a little bit better.
Turning to the match-day experience, tell us some things that your group does to make game day a livelier affair?
Much like the other groups, we rely mostly on songs, chants and visual displays to make our presence known. We work with the other supporters to coordinate call and answer chants, which we think add to the overall atmosphere of the stadium. Given U-Sector's long history, we have a few chants that are specific to us, that we like to bring out once in a while as well.
How do you explain your passion to people who don't understand the amount of time and resources you dedicate to following Toronto FC?
It's something that needs to be experienced. Personally, I never used to "get it" either, but once you immerse yourself into the culture, and see what it's all about, you start to understand what everyone else has been talking about.
Over the last decade of Toronto FC, what is the one key thing you have learned when it comes to support and atmosphere in general?
Support means different things to different people, and no one philosophy is right or wrong. The key is finding a happy medium that allows the majority of people to work together. At the end of the day, we're all here for the same reason.
What do you think about the current state of the atmosphere at BMO Field? Do you think it can be better?
There is always room for improvement. I think had things been handled a bit differently from the start (giving the supporters groups control of tickets in their section as an example), the atmosphere could be even better. But there are definitely ways that things can improve at BMO. There were some tough years on the pitch, and I think that translated off the pitch as well. But with improvement within the team itself, I think you'll see that migrate into the stands.
How do you differentiate which supporters group a person should join? Are they all similar or do they hold different beliefs for different people?
Within TFC Supporter's Culture, there is definitely something for everyone. It's a natural extension of the diverse nature of the city we call home, and something I think we, as Torontonians, pride ourselves on. Someone looking to get into supporting this club will easily be able to find a group that fits with their idea of what support is.
Lastly, how can people join your group?
They can check out our website (usector.ca) and join the message boards, as well, and perhaps more importantly, they can join us pre/post match at the pub and introduce themselves.
We'd like to thank Mel for taking the time to do this Q&A for us. Her answers really give fans a feel for what U-sector is all about.
If you would like more information about U-sector, you can visit them on their website or social media below: