Posts Tagged ‘Pali Blues’

Soccer Can Be More That Just A Game

“The Beautiful Game” series explores how soccer makes a difference off the pitch.

Two weeks ago, TSG ran the first part of our Supporter Series about the Tony Danza Army, a group of guys who support the Pali Blues of the W-USL.

In writing the piece, it was suggested that TSG request a quote from Pali Blues’ General Manager, Jason Lemire. Not really knowing too much about Pali Blues at the time, I suggested that Mr. Lemire should comment on TDA and the opportunity to attract new fans with the recent folding of the WPS Los Angeles Sol.

At that time Mr. Lemire chose not to answer the second part and I assumed he was being respectful of the still unfolding situation for the Sol. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the Pali Blues had a deep connection with the LA Sol. The co-founder of the Blues was one of the original owners of the Sol and the Blues coach was, until the Sol disbanded, the general manager of the WPS team.

In other words, the two teams were basically sisters in the LA market. But, according to an Open Letter to Pali Blues’ fans penned by Mr. Lemire,  the connection ran much deeper. Both teams shared a common belief that their mission transcended performance on the field to the inspiration of young girls and women. So with the folding of the Sol, Los Angeles may have lost more than just a women’s professional soccer team.

It would be easy to dismiss a (semi)professional soccer team’s desire to inspire young women, but the impact can be tremendous. Mrs. Shinguardian, my wife,  played soccer through college and credits the sport with being a big part of the women she has become.

Championships are only part of the goal for the Pali Blues.

All team sports provide some level of commitment, teamwork and goal setting, but, according to Mrs. Shinguardian, soccer stands above the rest for women. As she pointed out, soccer is one of the only team sports that has identical rules for men and women.

In women’s soccer, the ball is the same size (unlike basketball), the field is the same (unlike softball), the gear is the same (unlike lacrosse) and the rules are the same (unlike hockey).

The underlying equality in soccer may not seem like a big deal to men— it didn’t at first to me — but rest assured it is one for women and girls. To the extent then that teams like the Blues and the former Sol can be a positive influence on young women speaks to the power of the beautiful game to have an impact on lives, not just trophy cases and bank accounts.

Mr. Lemire finally did eventually comment on the folding of the Sol in that Open Letter to Pali Blues’ fans and supporters of women’s soccer in LA specifically. The letter provides insight into what Pali Blues is all about and an invitation to all within the LA market to be inspired by what is going on at the Stadium by the Sea.

With permission from Mr. Lemire, here is his Open Letter:

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The Supporter Series: Tony Danza Army

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The Supporter Series on TSG celebrates supporters clubs across the US.

Supporters groups aren’t just for big clubs and national teams. In a tiny, but beautiful corner of Los Angeles, a light blue clad army exists, the Tony Danza Army.

Before you ask if Galaxy or Chivas USA has changed their colors let me introduce you to, arguably, the most successful soccer club in Los Angeles, the Pali Blues. The W-USL is the second division of women’s professional soccer in the United States and the Pali Blues have won two championships in as many seasons behind the support of the Tony Danza Army (TDA).

TSG first learned of the Tony Danza Army following some research (i.e. we clicked on a link) when Max Goldman, founder of TDA, put together this video to pump of USMNT fans after the World Cup draw in December. However, opposing teams and Pali Blues management are well aware of the vocal group of supporters. Said, Pali Blues General Manager Jason Lemire:

[TDA is] one of the best things about our organization. In a league that generally struggles for genuine stadium atmosphere, The Tony Danza Army brings entertainment and credibility to our gameday. They personally motivate me [as General Manager] to match their enthusiasm. The coaches and players love having them at the stadium and say that they are the type of fans any organization would want.

Max Goldman answered some questions for TSG about the Tony Danza Army and Pali Blues and, along with the folks TSG met at the US-HON match, helped inspire The Supporter Series.

TSG: Why did a bunch of dudes take an interest in women’s soccer and, in particular, second division women’s soccer?

I would attribute this to the very nature of the Tony Danza Army, which resonates with people on a variety of levels.  On one level, we’re all good ol’-fashioned sports fans, the guys who love to attend games and be the most enthusiastic fans in the house.

On another level, a lot of us are passionate soccer folks, the types who would watch any game, anywhere, and follow our team to the bitter end.

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