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  • Writer's pictureSoccer Down Here

The Beautiful Game Unites Us All

by Madison Crews

The heartbeat of every team is the fans who support them through all the obstacles. I feel like this embodies what the Atlanta United supporter section does to not only the Five Stripes, but to the community around Atlanta. 

I had the opportunity to experience what it is like to be a member of the supporter groups for Atlanta United when they faced off against FC Cincinnati on April 20. All of the supporter sections tailgate together and it feels like one big family. 

For Max Ramos, who is a member of the Resurgence supporter group, that message rings true. 

“I moved here three years ago and these people became my family instantaneously,” said Ramos when asked what it has been like to be a part of this group. “I wouldn’t be able to live my life without these people.”

The drinks were flowing, people were laughing and enjoying each other's company. One group had a flat screen TV set up and people were watching Arsenal playing Wolves at home. I felt like I knew all of them even though I had just met most of them that day. 

“That is the great thing about the Atlanta United supporter sections,” said Ramos. “They are so inviting to other people, and no matter who you are, where you’re from, or what your story is, you are welcome here.”

Many people don’t put a lot of emphasis on how important having a strong fanbase can boost a team or a club. The 17s are one of the reasons why many MLS teams have issues beating Atlanta at home. Atlanta United has embraced the culture and the hospitality of Atlanta. 

Even though Atlanta lost to FC Cincinnati last Saturday, being able to watch the supporter section continue to chant and cheer on the team until the final whistle blew was truly something special. When everyone comes together to sing “We Ready” at the beginning of the match, there is a sense of community and knowing that all of these people love the beautiful game as much as you do. 

As I was writing this, I kept coming back to my own experience being a fan and watching Atlanta United, and there was always one person who was with me in all of those moments: my dad, Justin Larrison. 

If you think I’m a die hard fan, you haven’t met my dad. He has the same passion for the beautiful game as I do. 

I remember watching the 2014 FIFA World Cup with my family, and watching Clint Dempsey run up the pitch. Being able to watch soccer with my dad brought us closer together. 

My mom remarried in 2012, and I wasn’t able to have something that me and him could do together. Now, I don’t remember a time where I’m not watching a match with him or texting him updates when I’m not home. My dad was the one who brought me into this sport, and we were at every game we could attend. 

I attended the inaugural match for Atlanta United at Bobby Dodd Stadium where they lost to the New York Red Bulls 2-1, but even though we lost, the energy of that night always stuck with me. 

Being a part of those 55,000 people who came that night made me realize that I wanted to pursue a degree in sports management and be a sports broadcaster. Atlanta United may have been the spark to ignite the inferno, but my dad fueled the fire with me all those years ago. 

If you would have told me that one special moment back in 2014 would change the course of my life, I wouldn’t believe you, but it did. 

Soccer is all about family and bringing people together to support something remarkable. For me, it’s something I always associate with my dad. I know that no matter what, him and I will always be connected with the beautiful game. He always told me that I should enjoy the job I do, and he couldn’t be more right. 

Soccer has the power to bring people together no matter who you are. It is something that brings me joy when I need it most. The beautiful game gave me something more than just a team to root for, it gave me a dad who will cheer me on from the sidelines no matter if I win or lose.

Just like the 17s after Atlanta United lost to Cincinnati, my dad will support me through it all.

(photos: Sofia Cupertino and Madison Crews)

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