Being a huge fan of a European football club on the opposite side of the planet can feel pretty special sometimes, but it can also feel lonely and isolated.
It’s nice to think you’re one of a kind, that you get your team all to yourself – almost like they play for you and you alone and you are their most important fan. But football is a social game really. If you aren’t able to discuss or debate the finer points of an important victory or drown your sorrows from defeat over a coffee or beer, or at least just be able to look a fellow fan in the face and share in each other’s emotions, then you are missing something.
Twitter is ok for chewing the fat with like minded tragics up to a point, but while it is all consuming on some levels you still miss that human interaction. Ultimately you are still watching the game with your cat, and when that all important goal goes in your shrieks of joy tend to send feline company packing rather than into your arms.
Some of my greatest football-watching moments by far have been at Gina’s when Italy is playing in World Cups and Euros. And rather than having to wait two years (or longer now ^%#@^&) between opportunities to experience such life highlights, I have often wondered if it would be possible to replicate feelings like that multiple times a year every year for Roma games.
There are wonderful, vibrant Roma clubs overseas that I see active online, particularly Roma Club New York, Roma Club Philadelphia and Roma Club United Kingdom but until now it’s been in the too hard basket for me. I just figured the Italian community in New Zealand is too small. Even finding one other Roma fan in Auckland to watch a few games with would be a triumph!
Then a guy from Roma’s marketing department got in touch. He said if we can get 20 members in New Zealand, we could be officially recognised by the club, have our own webpage on the official Roma site, and get our own direct line of communication with the club that we could use anytime – presumably to advise Eusebio Di Francesco on which players to rotate each week.
I told him I thought we might be hard pressed to find twenty, but I would give it a go…
So I started a Facebook Group, shared it with my friends, some of whom shared it to their friends, and I sent it to the Dante Aligheri Society. 24 hours and a retweet by the Italian Embassy later we had 30 members!
Roma had a big week this week. The new stadium planned to be built in the Tor di Valle suburb in the city’s southwest got final planning approval and on the same day we defeated Qarabag to top our Champions League group and head for the Round of 16. Monday’s draw could see us face Basel, Bayern Munich, Sevilla, Shakhtar Donetsk, Porto or Real Madrid. Depending on who we face, the knockout rounds could see our new group’s first attempt to get together to watch our team.
And after that, if the club follows through, we could be the first officially recognised Serie A Supporters’ club in New Zealand!
If you would like to be a part of history (ok, I might be getting a little bit carried away) feel free to join. You don’t have to be a Roma fan – yet!
Categories: Roma/Italian Calcio
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.