"The supporter's culture was what really got me into it."
Gute Tag Leser! Welcome back to American Pyramid and your weekly does of reading about awesome people and awesome soccer clubs in the lower leagues of the US of A. I got tuned into Himmarshee FC while Steve Bernasconi of The Soccer Tour was staying with my wife and I this summer in KC.
I'll give you a really quick rundown before you dive in Himmarshee FC is a member owned club in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Members get to vote on almost everything, like they just did for jerseys for the debut season. And they are going to be some of the most beautiful in American Soccer period, let me tell you. Derek talks about what it means to be a member, and how important it is for them to be member owned to ensure the club has a long, bright future. Check it out.
Tell readers about yourself. Who you are, where you're from, and what your role is with Himmarshee FC.
My name is Derek Reese, I'm the (first!) president of Himmarshee Football Club. I was born and raised here in Broward County, FL (specifically Hollywood, Lauderhill and Plantation in that order). I'm a graphic artist and have been involved with the local pro club in some capacity (either as a supporter, freelancer, part time and eventually full time employee) since 2008, when the Strikers were still the 1st Miami FC. I was one of the co-founders of the supporters group Flight 19 when we had the idea for a true Strikers-specific group ahead of their return in late 2010.
How did you come to be a fan of soccer?
I played rec soccer for 3 years as a kid, but at that time (the early-mid 90s) we only had the 2nd version of the Strikers (D2 APSL) in town and although I had heard of them, the then-new Marlins, Panthers and Heat were all playing (decently too) and the Dolphins were still consistently good and those teams got all the press and attention so those were my heroes. I focused on other sports and didn't really get back into soccer until much later. After the '02 and '06 World Cups I got back into it a little. Got FIFA 06 on PS2 and started to learn about the world's game. Pro/rel, aggregate scores, cup draws, all that stuff. The supporter's culture was what really got me into it though. Totally different than anything else in sports in the US. Also as a designing obsessed with sports logos, I started doing some ideas for a MLS team in the area (at that time I believe it was a rumored Boca Juniors-led effort - over a decade later and still they can't seem to get that done haha). After hearing about the Sons of Ben and their efforts to bring an MLS team to Philly, I wanted to do that in south Florida. I linked up with the Miami Ultras who were formed for just that purpose.
Within a couple of months after forming the group was approached by the D2 side Miami FC (USL) and the colors changed from aqua/orange to blue and orange and I made it out to most of the games from 2008-2010. Even with a few dozen people in the stands the games were always fun and a blast. But my passion really got turned up to the next level when the team moved north to Fort Lauderdale, my de-facto hometown and the intent was declared to become the Strikers. Over those first few years something happened where I realized I didn't *need* an MLS club to have a great time, make friends, or support my club to the fullest. Once they became the Strikers I really identified with them. At that point (winter 2010) three of us (my brother Zach and our friend, Justin, who first met up with us at an *away* match in Tampa Bay in 2010) decided to break away, and not really focus any time on emailing Don Garber or tweeting Victoria Beckham shouting about #MLSMiami, but instead dedicate ourselves to the historic club in our city that was returning. That was the genesis of F19.
What's the origin story behind Himmarshee FC? How did this club come into existence?
It goes back, not necessarily in the final form it ended up taking, quite a while actually. Probably as early as 2013. For years under the penny-pinching Traffic Sports ownership (we did not know how good we had it to be honest), every so often one of us lower level folks in the Strikers front office or amongst the supporters would quip "well if these guys screw everything up and bail on us, let's just start our own team in NPSL or something!". Being the logo nut I am, I've sketched a fair amount of name/crest concepts over the years in the margins of notebooks or messing around in Illustrator. As Traffic faded into the Ronaldo era, and the initial hype and excitement of that faded into the world of late paychecks, insurance lapses, USOC games at 11:00 AM on Astroturf and other head-scratching calamities, the thought of losing our club became more and more real throughout 2016. I believe I thought up the name and the gist of the crest design of the club sometime around August 2016. As the year rolled on and things got worse, I really started to think if it would be possible to start our own club - researching leagues, reading the fantastic write-ups coming out of clubs like Minneapolis City and Kingston Stockade, and so on.
Watching the rise of amateur soccer across the country over the last 5 years or so in places like Detroit, Chattanooga, Mobile and others gave me little doubt it would be possible *if* we were able to build a culture around the club that was appealing to people and not just another in the vast sea of "semi-pro" sides in the region. So once the curtain finally fell on the 4th version of the Strikers, things started fall into motion. As my official role with the Strikers increased over the years, my involvement and available time with supporters related activities dropped off (and yes - some folks might frown on a person being paid by a club also being involved with a supporters group for said club, but trust me, I wasn't in it for the money. I truly loved my club and wanted to do everything I could to help it improve and grow). So since I was now free of any commitment with the team, I threw my hat in the ring to run for president at the Flight 19 AGM earlier this year (I had been the original president of the group in 2011). As part of my "inaugural address" I proposed the idea of starting our own supporter owned club. Knowing the situation going on with the Strikers, and not trusting any of the sale rumors floating about at the time, I knew it would be at least a few years before the Strikers came back, if at all.
So as the weeks went on I put together a proposal to set up a new nonprofit corporation that would function as an amateur club but also the legal organization of the supporters group, too (F19 never really officially existed as a true entity). We launched the club on April 9th at Lockhart Stadium, on the 40th Anniversary of the Strikers very first game in 1977. To have the Strikers go under in a historic year like this is really a shame, but we thought there would be no better time to start our own thing and keep that history alive in some way. Nobody can ever replace the Strikers (heck the Strikers themselves couldn't even properly replace *THE* Strikers from the 70s/80s), but with HFC we're hoping to build something that we, the supporters and the community, truly control the destiny of, and that will stand the test of time.
Sounds like Strikers fans are unsinkable! This might be a question with an obvious answer, but I'd like to know what you have to say. Why do supporter owned?
Well it's pretty simple there. This way the people who truly care are the ones in control. We're not in this to make money (which nobody really does in pro soccer in this country anyway), sell some kinda of "global brand" or get business connections in the US. We just want a club we can call our own that respects our local soccer tradition and history. We've had two sets of corrupt and/or inadequately-funded owners locally in recent history who built up hope only to leave us with nothing. The only time Fort Lauderdale ever comes up relating to MLS is when Garber (wrongly) blames the location for the failure of the Fusion. I have some experience with supporter ownership, being a co-owner of FC United of Manchester. Thought their story was super cool, and for what works out to around $20 US, how cool is it to say you own a soccer club?I'm really excited to be doing it here in FTL. We really think a supporter-owned model at this level is sustainable. Who knows how far it can take us. Maybe we won't be opening up our own stadium anytime soon like FCUM was able to do, and we can't win promotion to a higher level (yet), but if 10 years from know we have a thriving, sustainable club still kicking it around here, even if it's amateur, that's fine by me.
I like that line of thinking. It's all about building a sustainable, long term club. How have your efforts to start the team been received so far from local soccer fans and the local community?
It's all been pretty positive. There of course is some skepticism and there are more than a few people that have kinda soured on soccer after what has happened, but overall it's been great and almost everyone loves the concept when we talk about it. We had a fantastic launch, with good enthusiasm but that died down some as the summer went on, understandable with not a lot happening and no real team yet. But now we're starting to announce partners, we're voting on our kit designs, and we've got our head coach on board (which we'll be announcing very soon!), so things are starting to ramp up again as we move towards kickoff in a few months. I believe we have (as of the time of this response) 105 Member/Co-owners so far, most of them are local, but we've also received great support from all over the soccer community, with members hailing from 18 US states, Canada and as far away as the UK. We think we can do better and bring more people on board but the support so far has been fantastic.
105 is nothing to laugh at. Did you come up with your dollar amount to become a member from FC United of Manchester, or did you come up with the amount based on budget needs?
It was loosely based on FCUM, yeah. Originally we were thinking of making it a bit more, but we settled on $20, a nice even number that isn't going to break the bank for anyone. We didn't want "it's too expensive" to be a reason for someone not to get involved. We also wanted it to be similar to what we had been charging in the past for Flight 19 annual membership packs, which over the years were usually between $20-$30.
Creating some continuity. Not a bad idea. Have you found a home league for Himmarshee FC to play in yet?
Yes we have! Actually, we've had our league picked out from the start. We'll be playing in the Gold Coast Soccer Premier League, which has been operating locally since 1973. Without the Gold Coast League it frankly would not be possible for us to be playing this soon. A couple of things were attractive about the league, first and foremost was the cost. It's just $300 to register your team for each season (they play both winter and summer seasons) and ~$100 per game (per team) to cover referee and field usage costs. The other options in the area for FSSA/USASA/USSF sanctioned leagues are the APSL, NPSL, PDL and more recently the USPL has started adding teams down here. But all of them are significantly more expensive to join (NPSL and PDL especially). That upfront "expansion fee" cost is a huge hit at this level, and even a couple thousand dollars can be make or break for a team. Those fees are one of my big issues with US Soccer in general. Putting clubs thousands (or hundreds of thousands, millions or hundreds of millions depending on how high up you go) of dollars in the hole before they even start doesn't lend itself to teams sticking around. That money could be much better spent on players, stadiums, academies, or in our case basic stuff like uniforms and equipment.
The winter season was huge for us too. For one thing, that's the only time of year where it really makes sense to be playing outdoor soccer in Fort Lauderdale. Temps in the 60s-70s, minimal rain, clear skies, really the time of year that convinces you to stay here for the rest of the time haha. That schedule (November to March with a holiday break) also syncs up almost perfectly as the opposite of the domestic pro calendar, so it won't matter if the EPL expands to Miami, we wouldn't be in direct conflict with that. Of course, we hope the Strikers do come back so in that scenario we'd be setting ourselves up to continue right along in the offseason with HFC. Since we don't anticipate that happening, at least in the short term, if all goes well this winter we can easily roll into the 2018 summer season if we want to (and we'll need to if we want to be eligible to enter 2019 USOC qualifying).
Does sound like some awesome weather, especially in winter. Having interviewed Diego about Gold Coast Soccer Premier League before, how would you describe the level of competition in the league?
I've haven't had the chance to watch a whole lot of the league, but from what I've been able to take in it's pretty competitive. A mix of younger, academy type guys coming out of the many youth clubs down here, and also the weekend warrior type players who just wanna play for the love of it. You also sometimes have teams like Boca Raton FC, who started in APSL, won that league their 1st two seasons, and joined NPSL this year while fielding a team in the GCSPL as well. A team like that who has guys that train on a more regular basis is gonna be tough to beat (I don't think they lost one match this past winter season).
Our team will likely end up as a mix of younger players and some older guys, maybe even a few former Strikers, we'll have to see how the roster fills out.
On the topic of memberships, what does becoming a member/owner of Himmarshee FC get you?
First and foremost you get a say in what goes on with the club. So each member has one vote when things need deciding, like shirt/merch designs, board elections, and other various issues. Nobody can buy or sell "shares", nobody gets paid any profits that we might bring in. This way no one person can seize control of the club. As a member you are legible to run for office on the board as well. And of course you get the material stuff, this first year it is a couple of stickers, buttons, a car magnet and member card, plus a discount code (good for 19% off, naturally) on the online shop.
Very cool. How do you pitch becoming a member to a soccer fan who isn't one already? How do you explain this whole idea to them?
Sometimes it's tricky. But the low cost to get involved helps, and although it's not exactly the same setup, using the Green Bay Packers as an example is pretty useful. That's a small town that has no business having a major league pro sports team in it, but they will never move away or change their name, because their fans & community literally own the team. If a person knows anything about world football, then they know how the Bundesliga works, or clubs like Barça or Madrid who are owned by their members, so that's a little bit of an easier sell. The hardest thing of all, and this applies to pretty much every lower league team, pro or amateur, in this country (and often MLS teams too), is convincing someone why they should support a team that "isn't the best". That often takes actually dragging them out to a game and showing them a great time. It doesn't matter if it's Messi out on the pitch, or John Smith from the local college. The tailgating is still blast, the company is great, and I dare anyone not to scream when the home team scores. I like to use my own personal experience as an example. I've spent the last decade supporting a lower division club, and I've had just as much, if not more, fun as somebody supporting Manchester United.
I've been on countless road trips, places I'd never have gone if not for my team. I've met dozens, maybe hundreds of great people from every background who I now call friends. I met my wife at a Strikers game (my brother met his wife there too). My motto is, if you treat your club like it's major league and important, than it is. No need to wait around at home for "something better" when it's right there for you now if you want it to be. The experience is what you make of it, and I hope we can grow HFC into an experience that is special to people and worth being a part of.
The experience is what you make of it. Wow. A poignant line right there. What, if anything, of course, are you planning on doing to help make that experience be the best it can be before fans need to start buying in and make it something really special?
Well we're going to try and do everything we can (on a shoestring budget) to make it a fun experience. That's what this whole effort is about. We don't want to lose the fun we have throughout the year with our friends (and in some cases, now family) because our team went away. We want to pick right up where we left off. But we're not trying to kid anyone. There won't be any bells and whistles. But as I said, it's what we make of it so I think collectively everybody who comes out to support is going to contribute to the experience. I've always kinda envisioned our games being like a 90 minute tailgate party. That was one of the biggest problems we had with the Strikers, actually getting people into the stadium after 3+ hours of partying haha. So with smaller fields/parks and a little bit of *almost* anything goes mentality, we're hoping to have a unique atmosphere at our games. Maybe they'll be more smoke from grills than smoke bombs. BYO-everything. And also not to be overlooked is the closeness you can have with the team. Some of the players and coaches on the Strikers became friends with many of the fans. Of course we're going to have that same kinda of vibe. The closeness to the game (both literally and figuratively) at the lower levels is a great asset.
Also something that we want to include into the core of the HFC culture is doing good for the community. In the past as F19 we've done charity fundraisers and events, soccer equipment drives for Haiti and the like, and we're definitely going to continue that with HFC. That's why we've partnered with the You Can Play Project who will appear on the front of our kits. We're running what we're calling the #HFCKitDrive where 50% of donations go to help us get our jerseys and equipment, and the other 50% goes to You Can Play to help them support equality in sports (we'll also be donating a portion of the proceeds once we start selling the jerseys). The LGBTQ community is huge here in Fort Lauderdale, and very important to the fabric of our city, so that is an area that we definitely want to assist with. As we get our legs under us and the team really gets going, we hope to expand our charitable efforts to other areas as well.
A big area of revenue for clubs is sponsors. How has the push to get sponsorship's gone so far, and how did the partnership with the You Can Play Project come about?
To be honest it's gone a little slow, but that is somewhat to be expected when you're a new thing that really only exists on paper. Also going after sponsors that had anything to do with the Strikers the last 2 years is pretty much a non-starter since most of them got burned by ownership and are a bit gun shy about getting back into soccer (though sponsoring us is a much lower cost). We're still fine tuning what we can offer to sponsors, how much we're charging, who we're reaching out to. It's a lot of trial and error. The You Can Play Partnership came about from our desire to do something positive and relevant to the local FTL community. We did some researching of various organizations and we thought You Can Play would be the perfect fit, and we really happy to have their endorsement for the project. The concept is we'll still focus on securing some smaller sponsors, but let's take that showcase spot on our shirt and try to kill two birds with one stone: spread awareness and raise funds for a good cause and also bring in some money for the club that a traditional sponsorship would have. Of course that's contingent on people actually donating, so we're hopeful more folks will jump on board and lend a hand (if interested, anyone can donate through our online store at http://HimmarsheeFC.org/Shop)!
At the end of the day I think we're going to get by mostly on contributions from supporters - be it memberships, merch sales or donations - as we start out and hopefully the sponsorship side grows as we do. One of the key pillars of this clubs is going to be not overdoing anything, and not trying to punch above our weight. Trying to act bigger than you are is what sank the Strikers, and we want no part in getting ahead of ourselves and suddenly looking around and having no way to continue. Slow, steady growth is what's going to make HFC work, and we'll only make moves that make sense for us. To put it another way, we know we're driving a Geo, and that's ok. We're not going to be pretending to roll up in a BMW anywhere.
You can add into the part about the genesis of the club, coming up with the name (or wherever else makes sense) - The name Himmarshee is the original native Seminole word for the New River (was originally tinkering with names using that term), which runs through downtown Fort Lauderdale and stretches from the ocean to the Everglades through Broward County. Coincidentally it also fits quite nicely into the middle of a retro-style football, which is the centerpiece of the HFC crest. It gives us an identity that is uniquely ours, deeply tied to our community, but not a cop out like "FC Fort Lauderdale" or something like that would be. Coupled with the Red & Gold colors and stripes in the crest, it has a solid nod to the soccer tradition here which is why we're here.
Definitely a light-bulb-over-the-head moment when the old school ball, river and name all came together in the sketchbook.
Solid sounding approach for sponsorship's. I know sponsors are a pressing need, but strategically getting that one sponsor can make a huge difference. As for your logo, why the old school soccer ball? Personally, I love it, and not enough clubs use it, but stick to the clip art ball instead.
Honestly - because the New River meshed so perfectly with it in the design. It does lead to some confusion among non-soccer aficionados, a soccer team calling itself a football club with what looks like a volleyball in the logo, but I think (admittedly a little biased) it works great. It's hard to make the old school ball look bad (unless you're directly ripping off the Barcelona crest of something), but the black and white clipart Telstar ball almost always looks tacky on a crest.
I know nobody has used one of those old style balls in like 50 years, particularly not one with laces, but nobody uses a buckyball anymore either, and the Cleveland Browns are still using that same helmet illustration from the 80's even though they don't really look like that these days, so I say it's all good.
No argument from me there. Since you guys are in Fort Lauderdale, and I've never been, how would describe your town and soccer scene to an outsider? I remember Steve mentioning you guys are the' Butterfly Capital of the World.' Which lends itself to some great logo ideas, too.
It's definitely an interesting place to call home. There's lots of water - thanks to all the canals the official town nickname is the "Venice of America" - maybe we can get a friendly vs Venezia FC someday! We're kinda the St. Paul to Miami's Minneapolis, the Fort Worth to it's Dallas. A little more laid back, but with all the same beaches, amenities, things to do, which is one of the reasons why there really is a pretty well defined border between Broward and Miami-Dade down here. There really isn't much of a reason someone from FTL needs to go to Miami, and vice-versa. Then you have the cultural differences. The Greater FTL area doesn't have as pronounced of a Latin flavor as Miami does, as you can find yourself in places down there where it really does feel like you're in a different country. But we still have a great multicultural community - the Caribbean/Jamaican/Haitian community is massive in central Broward, and we have pockets of Central and South American residents all over. Pompano Beach has a big Brazilian population. And as I mentioned before Fort Lauderdale has one of the biggest and most welcoming LGBTQ communities in the nation. And of course you've got half of Quebec down here during the winter (I don't understand why they want the Panthers to move to Canada, they're all here during hockey season!).
he great thing about soccer is that it can bring all of these communities and people from different backgrounds together. The benefit for me personally has been meeting all of these great people, and experiencing different cultures without ever leaving my backyard. The best bit is we get all of the great food from around the country and world. Jerk chicken from the Caribbean. Pupusas from El Salvador and Baleadas from Honduras. We have a half dozen Brazilian steakhouses in the area. Primanti Bros. from Pittsburgh and Skyline Chili from Cincinnati. And a handful of solid English pubs too. If you can stand the summer heat, humidity and rain (and sometimes hurricanes), it's a great place to be. And for a soccer team, as history has shown, it's a wonderful place to be if you do it right.
I like good food, so maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to venture to the other side of the state of Florida at some point. When does your upcoming season kick off, and what kind of work still needs to be done before it happens?
We don't have an exact date just yet, but we're expecting it to start sometime in November. We won't know for sure until the summer season wraps up and the full slate of teams joins for the winter and the schedule is drawn up. We have our coach (actually being announced a couple of hours from now), so the next step is actually building the squad. We expect to be hosting an open tryout in mid-September to fill out the roster in addition to invited players. We'll also be ordering our uniforms (which will be finalized at the end of next week when Member voting wraps up) around that same time. Other than those (rather big) things there isn't a whole lot of logistical stuff that needs to get taken care of. We'll continue to push to get new Members, and once we have that schedule in hand we can start promoting our matches, which will be awesome. I'm sure there will be a big sense of accomplishment when the boys step out on the field for the first time.
I saw on your Twitter that voting for jerseys colors had ended recently, and you have red and gold for home, and then red, white and blue for away. What were some of the options that people had? I'd like to dig into some of the details of what being a member entails so anyone who's reading this that might be interested knows what to expect.
We started out with the color vote with very basic options, primarily to answer the elephant-in-the-room question: should we adopt some form of the classic Strikers look? The choice for the primary shirt were A. Some variation on the Red & Gold hoops/stripes, B. Primarily Red, C. Primarily Yellow or D. Something totally different. Considering the club badge is the red/yellow/white colors those made sense as base options. 62% ended up being in favor of adopting the hoops. For the secondary shirt, the options were also pretty simple, A. Club Colors (Red/Yellow/White), B. Club Colors plus Black, C. FTL City Colors (Red/White/Blue) or D. Something totally off the wall (neon, crazy patterns, and so on). 50% of the vote there went to the FTL colors. That first color vote was very basic so we could use that as a base to move to the next stage, which is ongoing now with the actual designs. Also we didn't know if we'd be able to go full-custom with the shirts when that polling began, but now thanks to our great partners we definitely will. With everything so far the voting has at least been 2 stages, sometimes 3. Narrow down the choices and then do a final vote. Right now with the designs, we have 16 different choices for both the primary and secondary shirts which will get narrowed down to a final 3 for each with that round taking place next week.
We want to give the Members control to decide what we do, but at the same time you can't have everything little bit of minutiae up for debate, that would take forever and probably be hard to reach a consensus on most things. So starting off with some predetermined choices streamlines the process a bunch. Of course with everything there is room for open discussion, debate and with the designs, there is always an option of "none of the above" and if that's the winner, we'd go back to the drawing board.
Interesting. I think a lot of clubs might be scared off by the thought of all that minutiae in the hands of members, so hopefully this shows a good way forward for more clubs to start having members. In your mind, what are two or three things you feel need to be accomplished to make sure that Himmarshee FC is still here and thriving in five years time?
#1 is commitment from members to really back this effort. There will always be some passive folks who dig the idea, throw in their 20 bucks and simply go along for the ride. That's fine and there's certainly room for those types of members, and the membership investment is truly appreciated is a piece to making the whole thing work. But it's going to take a lot of hands on work from more than just a handful of us to keep things running smoothly, and to make sure we are always improving and growing. I'm hopeful that once we move past the abstract concept stage into a real club that is playing real matches, we can rebuild the fantastic, fun-driven, scrappy "us against the world" culture around the team that we built up with the Strikers through 2014 but sadly dwindled somewhat as the downturn of the club happened over the last two years. Another big thing I think that will help us is strengthening the league itself. I've actually been talking with them about helping on a potential re-brand, sprucing up the website and such to give the league a more professional image. I think there is massive potential for a league with such low fees, and particularly growing the winter season when the weather is perfect and there is really a complete void of adult soccer in the area (really in the entire country) is something I'd love to see (Euro calendar FTW!).
When it comes down to it, we just have to make sure our matches and gatherings are a great time for people, and it inspires them to keep supporting us through memberships and donations so we can continue on. I suppose that's the keystone of the entire supporter owned concept. As long as we stay committed to the club, it will never disappear. Nobody can fold, disband, re-brand or relocate our club, because it truly belongs to us. And if the enthusiasm isn't there, than the club won't be either. I know it won't be the polished, professional, "major league" team a lot of people demand (or think they deserve) in this region, but I think it's about time the supporter-owned model was given a shot, since none of the dozens of assorted pro soccer franchises to call south Florida home over the years have ever been able to survive (none of lasted more than 7 years without folding or relocating - and yes, I count moving from Miami -> Fort Lauderdale due to lack of support as a relocation and birth of an entirely new team - it's happened 2.5 times, but that's a story for another day).
Buy-in will ensure survival. Hopefully you can prove your legitimacy and start to bring some of the soccer wounded back into the fold. Ready for some short questions to wrap this up?
What's your favorite league and or team to watch for fun, other than Himmarshee FC?
I have the teams I casually follow abroad - Wolves (relegated twice just before every Premier League match became widely available here - bummer), and FCUM (following via Twitter right now actually, they just scored!). But I can't in good faith call myself a true supporter. A loss won't ruin my day, if you know what I mean. I enjoy waking up to the EPL & Bundesliga on weekend mornings. And recently I've been catching Detroit City FC streams, in awe of their atmosphere and what they've built. And of course I'm a supporter of the USMNT/WNTs, always try to make it to games in Florida.
Favorite players, one past and one present.
Past - Ray Hudson, hard to argue against him being the greatest FTL Striker ever (and best ever TV commentator). Never got to see him play in person but have had the chance to meet him a few times and he's just fantastic.
Present - I've always liked Zlatan. Not only the skill but the bravado, the ego, everything. Pure entertainment, that guy.
Do you have any books or podcasts, soccer related or otherwise, that you would recommend as beneficial to the people reading this?
Well I don't have any books off the top of my head but I'd strongly recommend anyone interested in soccer in the US to check out the posts by Dennis Crowley of Kingston Stockade and Dan Hoedeman of MPLS City SC, they are really interesting looks at what it takes to run even a 4th division team here and the challenges associated with it (which starting an amateur club of our own I can totally appreciate). But they do show that it *IS* possible and I hope it inspires more clubs to start up all over the US. As for podcasts, I gotta go with my guys at The Tailgate Show (http://www.thetailgateshow.us). They started up in 2012 covering mostly the Strikers but have expanded over the years to feature much of the local soccer scene, US Soccer, and they even talk a little international club footy too. It's run out of the host Chris Marrazzo's kitchen, aka "The Kudio" (kitchen-studio) and is always an entertaining listen and even more fun to be there in person. I think it really showcases the fun you can have if you go all-in on supporting your local club.
If you could meet one person from soccer, past or present, who would it be?
I think it'd be pretty interesting to meet George Best. Hell of a career and life that guy had. I can only imagine the stories that we don't know about haha.
No joke! Where can people find out more about you, Himmarshee FC, and becoming a member, online?
If for some odd reason anyone wants to follow me, I'm at @DR928 on Twitter. I also have my own graphic design portfolio website over at http://www.drgraphicart.com (but it's broken at the moment so don't go there right now). The club can be found across social media @HimmarsheeFC and info about the club, membership and merch is online at http://www.himmarsheefc.org.
What would you say to someone asking you 'why should I support Himmarshee FC as a fan and become a member?'
I think it's a couple of things - one, it's incredibly cool to be able to say "I co-own a soccer team" and actually have a say in how it is run. Second, what we're trying to do with HFC in particular is to keep alive the tradition of the sport in own town so that it will never again be extinguished, usually by businessmen who really have no interest in the sport or community other than dollar signs. And third and perhaps most importantly, is that supporting a local club can lead you into incredible, unforgettable experiences, friendships and memories that you otherwise wouldn't have had. And to circle back on something I said earlier - it's pretty much my motto when it comes to soccer - the experience is what you make it. Don't wait around for some rich guy to drop a "better" team in your community. You can make it happen yourself just by changing your perception, getting out and supporting your local club, and having a great time!