1 & 2.) How long have you been a Caps fan and what made you become a Caps fan?
Rebecca: “There are a few reasons as to why I became a Whitecaps fan. Prior to 2008, I was a casual observer, loosely following the world of football, save for the World Cup and Euro matches over the years. However, when I moved to England for a teaching job, the transition from casual observer to interested fan to ardent supporter really started. Being immersed in a football-mad culture really helped grow my interest, as did teaching a bunch of students who focused more on their favourite teams than on their school work. I think what really hooked me was going to the Emirates for a Champions League match between Arsenal and Dynamo Kiev.
When I returned, I continued supporting Arsenal, but for some reason neglected the Whitecaps. However, that changed in the months leading up to the team’s transition to MLS in late 2010. I started paying more attention to what was being said about the team, about the league itself, and decided that it would be fun to get season tickets. The rest is history.”
3.) How can the Caps attract more women to attend games?
Rebecca: “My experiences in the North end at Empire and in the first year at BC Place lead me to believe that there are a lot of women going to the games. I imagine that the fact that a family of four can attend a game for a fraction of the price of a Canucks or even a Lions game is very appealing for families. The Whitecaps do a great job of developing experiences like the Kickin’ it with the Caps program or Party on the Plaza that cater to families, and so long as they keep doing that, they’ll bring in the women and their families.
In terms of the women that make up the non-family crowd and getting them to the match, I think word of mouth may be enough. The number of women I see coming to Southsiders events and joining up is increasing, as is the number of women standing in the Southside with their partners or friends during the game. As the game day experience continues to be talked about on Twitter or in the papers, the team continues to play exciting football, and the ticket prices stay down, the number of women attending should at the very least, stay the same, if not grow.”
4.) What made you join the Southsiders?
Rebecca: “June 2011 in Seattle. It was the first time that I had stood with a large group of Southsiders at a game, and after that I was hooked. The atmosphere was electric right from the get go. Oh Canada was sung so off-key, but was so loud and energizing. When we went up 1-0, it was deafening. My ears were ringing for ages. We were a bit deflated by Seattle’s next two goals but pushed on and kept singing. When Hassli hit that volley…sheer euphoria erupted.
While it took me about another year and a half to actually put down the money and become a Southsider, that trip really started it all. To be with a group of like-minded fans, a group of people devoted to supporting the team for the full 90, through horrible games, and amazing ones, was something that really resonated with me.”
5.) What is it like to be a female board member of the Southsiders?
Rebecca: “Being a member of the Southsiders Board of Directors has been an interesting experience. When I accepted the nomination for Director of Away Travel, I think I was being a bit naive in terms of the level of commitment required from a member of the board. Most days I’m spending an hour or two tending to the items in my portfolio, be it responding to member and non-member queries about away travel, or setting up accommodations, transportation, tickets, etc. to different away matches. Then there are the days where this feels like another full-time job. That being said, it has been an incredibly rewarding experience so far.
Through my interactions with the Whitecaps front office and those of the other MLS teams, I’ve gained a greater understanding of how professional sports teams operate. I’ve been able to see how much work goes into keeping an organization like the Southsiders running, not just at the board level, but at the committee level as well. But one of the best things about being in this role is seeing the increase in the number of Whitecaps supporters, not just Southsiders, heading to the different away games.
As for being a female board member, I don’t think it makes a difference at the board level. We are all pretty open when it comes to communicating with each other, and while we may not all share the same viewpoint on issues, gender has never come into consideration. As a member of the organization as a whole, I don’t think that 80% of the group would be able to recognize me in person, which for me is a good thing. I’d rather just fly under the radar and go about my business getting people to the different away trips.”
6.) Do you remember your first Caps game you ever attended?
Rebecca: “March 19, 2011, Whitecaps v. TFC. The beautiful weather, numerous goals and glorious, glorious ponchos raining down from above made that day special.”
7.) What is the best rivalry the Caps have?
Rebecca: “That is a really tough question to answer. For me it is probably the Cascadia rivalry than Canadian rivalry, mostly due to the impact that 1500 away supporters has on the atmosphere at the game. All you want to do is shut the away supporters up, and be able to taunt them when the Whitecaps walk away with three points. The fact that we haven’t been able to do either yet in the MLS-era is something that intensifies that rivalry.”
8.) What is your favourite away road trip? Why?
Rebecca: “So far, Portland has been my favourite away trip. Jeld-Wen is probably my favourite place to watch a Whitecaps game, even if the location of the away supporters section is terrible. The Timbers Army really are the gold standard when it comes to MLS supporters groups in terms of their support of their team. Seeing and hearing them in action is quite spectacular, and like us, they seem to find another gear and rise to the occasion when it comes to the Cascadia Cup matches. Our own support at Portland is incredible, especially when the Southsiders, Curva Collective and Rain City Brigade are singing and clapping in unison. Throw in some great food, great beer and gracious hosts, and you’ve got the Portland experience.”
9.) If you were Martin Rennie for 24 hours, what would you change?
Rebecca: “I wouldn’t really change much to be honest. I’d love to see him put Matt Watson back in the 18, and would really like to see the Canadian kids get a bit more playing time.”
10.) Finish this sentence, when the Caps win the MLS Cup, the MVP will be?
Rebecca: “The supporters. Just kidding. There are a lot of guys capable of stepping up on this team, and it really could be any one of them. YP Lee would be an obvious choice, and I could see Kenny Miller stepping up and carrying the team as well.”
11.) If a person has never attended a Caps games, what would you say to sell them on going?
Rebecca: It’s cheaper than Canucks games, and you don’t get kicked out for standing and cheering.”
12.) Who is your favourite current Caps player? Why?
Rebecca: “Gershon Koffie. Humble, hard-working and just an all-around solid football player.”
13.) Who is your favourite all-time Caps player?
Rebecca: “Well, being an MLS-era Whitecaps fan, I can’t say that I have an all-time favourite player. However, in the few chats I’ve had with him, I have to say that Carl Valentine is one lovely man.”
Stay tuned next week for another great guest…