For members of the Foot Soldiers supporters group in Calgary, their sheer numbers have kept morale high during the Canadian Premier League’s COVID-19 stoppage.
Cavalry FC’s major supporters group was beginning preparations for the 2020 CPL campaign when things were shut down in March.
Memories of big crowds of Cavalry fans jammed into a local pub seem like a lifetime away for Foot Soldiers member Sean Clarke. But the group’s passion for their hometown team has grown during this break.
“There’s a level of natural growing interest, even now,” Clarke told CanPL.ca. “We’ve been able to harness around a couple of hundred people that are in this for the long haul.”
The Foot Soldiers, who occupy ATCO Field’s south stand, have grown in numbers steadily since Cavalry kicked off last year, with the original Calgary Foothills supporters group bringing on more and more people at the pro level.
For Clarke, that momentum has compounded – strong, early interest from hundreds of Calgarians has kept the conversation alive during these difficult times.
“The number of people who came to a match saw us on the end and joined, has made the difference,” Clarke said,
Calgary was clearly smitten with the Cavs early on in the 2019 CPL season, so much so that new members of the Foot Soldiers went on to organize away trips months later – including to Cavalry’s historic Canadian Championship victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place.
Back home, ATCO Field at Spruce Meadows is set for some off-season upgrades, including floodlights. Clarke hinted at potential changes to their home in the stands, including a pulley system for tifos behind the supporter’s section and a capo stand.
“That tifo we made for (Finals 2019) had five or six people hanging up the two poles,” Clarke said. “That was a bit tedious. They were doing a rigging system to hoist tifos behind us, too. We’re only six rows deep so it makes things difficult.
“It’s just ways to make some of the everyday things we do a bit easier.”
Exactly when Clarke and the Foot Soldiers will be able to return to Spruce Meadows is unknown. While he waits, Clarke admits some out-there ideas have crossed his mind, including watching closed-door matches in pubs. Socially distanced, of course – no swaying arm-in-arm after a Sergio Camargo screamer.
Heck, why not watch the match drive-in style?
“I’d gladly have fans over to my place. Pull up a chair, toss a projector on the side of the house,” Clarke said.
Invites are in the mail, Cavs fans.