This past weekend, close to 50 delegates flew into Dallas, TX, USA for the 10th Annual Independent Supporters Council Conference. This is a special time for all of the groups involved as it is our time of the year to share best practices and set our agenda for initiatives heading into the next year. This year, 2019, was no different.
2018 was a year that saw supporters rise and fight throughout every league for fair and equal treatment of supporters who belonged to our organization, supporters who didn’t belong, and even teams where supporters saw potential human rights violations. That is exactly what the heart of this organization is and I know that I, and the other new leadership, are wanting to expand on the previous 10 years to continue to grow not only this group, but the voice of supporters around North America.
This weekend, we discussed multiple best practices through break out sessions and then focused our goals for 2019. You can read about our goals as an organization for the year that came out of conference below (not in order of importance, because we view them all as equally important):
Officially file as a non-profit that will serve all supporters in the United States and Canada in the best way possible. We have assembled a task force to work on a full set of by-laws to adopt and to officially file by the end of the year. In addition, we have created 4 other task forces to look at our branding, benefits, steering (direction), and non-MLS recruitment so that we can see growth in our presence.
Establish continuous contacts with pertinent officials in all leagues in the United States and Canada. We want to see our communication to not only be reactive, but proactive as well to set the Independent Supporters Council as a governing body that is looked to for guidance in future plans in all leagues.
Working as groups and with groups (such as FARE, Football Against Racism in Europe, which has expanded its work to other continents) to ensure that our stadiums are inclusive and welcome to all those who come. This includes educating front offices and leagues on Antifa and ensuring its presence for those who want to bring the anti-fascist message into North American stadiums.
Working with all leagues in North America to ensure that away travel procedures continue to be fair and equal. This includes fighting for the 5% away ticketing allocation for league games and working on a solution for tournament ticketing issues.
In addition to these initiatives, we will continue to recognize the following which are core to our existence:
Pride - showing our support for the openness and inclusion of the LQBTQI+ community in our soccer community through International Day Against Homophobia and Pride displays.
Show Racism the Red Card - showing our support for racial inclusion through displays around the International Day for the Elimination of Racism.
Community Service - in addition to our strong sense of community service, which will be posted in the upcoming weeks, we are looking at implementing an ISC Weekend of Service where all groups are called to give back to their communities during the International Break.
The Independent Supporters Council is beyond excited to move into 2019 with increased vigor and energy. We hope to be able to provide transparency to our workings with more regular updates via multiple and expanded social media platforms as well as a redesigned website that will serve as a blog with all of our updates easily accessible there. We stand by not only working for our members, but all supporters. This would not be possible without the hard work from our new board members. Thank you to the following people for dedicating and volunteering your time for this organization:
Drew Picard, Vice-President, Timbers Army
Wes Henderson, Internal Communications, Texian Army
Emily Ernst, External Communications, Dallas Beer Guardians
Levi Gibbon, Away Travel, Centennial 38
Steve Ferrezza, Away Travel, Empire Supporters Club
This year you will see us use the phrase, “We’re here.” You are invited to join us to show everyone that supporters have been and will continue to be here in the United States and Canada pouring into the soccer landscape in a multitude of ways. We look forward to keeping the North American soccer community updated on our 2019 initiatives and goals as we start and continue to make progress throughout the year. Your support from previous, present, and moving into the future is always beyond appreciated.
I, personally, look forward to and am honored to be serving as your President this year. Thank you for entrusting me with the work ahead. I promise to give the Independent Supporters Council all the energy I can to make 2019 the best year ever alongside you.