There was one point or another, in my life, when I had aspirations of becoming a professional athlete; whether that was baseball, football (American), basketball, golf, hockey, or even fútbol (soccer), I dreamed of playing “under the lights.” I can recall being all of 5’5” and out-jumping guys who were A LOT taller than me. There was a want, which I had/have to measure up to or surpass what was considered allowable within the world of whatever sport I was playing.
Fast forward oh, say, twenty-plus years or so, and I’ve found that my desire to lead is still present but it has moved from on the field of play and into the field of community play, per se. What else is a guy with torn-up hamstrings, weak ankles, and a suspect achilles tendon supposed to do?
Fire Squad Begins
A little over two years ago, a group of friends got together and threw around a crazy idea, one that would lead to the building of a supporters group for a semi-pro soccer team, a community-based section.
The immediate thought was that they could simply grab a bunch of friends, bring them together, and tell them that soccer games would be their chance to let loose a bit, i.e. laugh, sing, drink adult waters, and set off smoke bombs — in essence, be kids once again for a few hours. Anytime something like this takes place, one needs to attach some type of name to the group so others can identify and, with that, Fire Squad Fresno was born.
The initial numbers for Fire Squad weren’t the greatest to start off — maybe 30-40 supporters — but as the leadership group continued to work and add different parts to their team, the few turned into many, and the many promised that they’d bring more energy and friends to the matches.
At the end of the day, the phrase that stands out to me is one that was uttered by one of the Fire Squad Fresno members: “It all starts with you. That is, if you want change to take place.”
The 2016 Premier Development League season was one for the record books as both Fresno Fuego and Fire Squad Fresno saw growth on the field and in the stands, too! The Fresno Fuego were crowned regular season champions of the Southwest Division, and Fire Squad Fresno grew to over 250 paid memberships for the season.
In what many are calling the junior season of fandom, we’ve already eclipsed 500 supporters marching into both Chukchansi Stadium and Fresno State Women’s Soccer Field before a match. The Fresno Fuego are really good this season and I, for one, feel as if something magical is set to take place.
The best part of all of this is the fact it’s local, accessible, and family friendly. If you haven’t experienced a night of soccer at Chukchansi Stadium, you might just want to fire up the ol’ minivan and mosey on over to the stadium. Rest assured you’ll have a great time!
There are plenty of matches left to attend this season. Schedule here: http://www.fresnofuego.com/fuego-schedule