By Jessica Dembe
It’s a Saturday morning; the clock reads 8:45 AM. I slowly get up and do the typical morning rituals: grab a bowl of cereal, grab my shirt, grab my laptop and head straight to the television.
This is how I – along with many other American Gooners – pre-game for the customary Saturday matches.
Because of age limits, time restraints or location, many of us are unable to watch the games at the bars. So instead we connect with other fans through social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, or LiveBlog pages. On match days, these networks allow us Gooners to interact with fans from around the world, share our opinions and get a sense of how others feel about the state of the club.
I have made connections with Gooners not only here in the United States and in the UK, but also with Brazilians, Indonesians, Kenyans, and people in many more countries. Together we share our stories on how we started supporting Arsenal and what it is like to be an international fan.
My story for example: I have always had a love for football but I wasn’t always able to play due to health reasons. Still, I loved how the game was played, how you interacted with the ball when playing and the drive that players have to be the best at what they do.
But when it came to supporting a club, I could never pin-point the exact moment at which I decided to follow Arsenal – it was something that just happened. It was probably some time in the very early-2000’s, but the exact time frame is foggy because it just felt so natural to support this club.
Another great aspect to mixing football and social networks is interacting with fans of other clubs. While exploring the vast field that is social media, I have met so many different fans of other teams that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise meet. Some of the fans with whom I interact on Twitter support a broad range of clubs – from Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid to Birmingham City and even Gillingham. The banter with them is fun, especially when we’re about to play each other –the build up to the match days before, and the picking apart of the opponent’s team.
Adopting the “No one likes us, we don’t care” mentality 99.5% of the time fosters competition and builds bonds – both within the club and among other people. That same mentality can also bring on a lively debate about our own players – who should be rested, who should get the nod over who and recognizing the stars in the making. None of this would have been imaginable without social media.
Since many of us either don’t know many Arsenal fans or even fans of football in general, these networks become a great forum to say what we think. So sure, we all may not be able to get around to the bar to enjoy the game, but when the atmosphere and camaraderie that can be made with others hundreds, even thousands of miles away, watching football takes on a whole different element.
Jessica Dembe has been a football fan since she was a kid and has been supporting Arsenal for about five or six years. She has yet to make a trip to London to see Arsenal in person, but is saving every penny she has in order to go one day.Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 21 Oct 2010