Sons of Ben

The Sons of Ben is a 501(c) (3) Pennsylvania based non-profit, membership organization.

The Sons of Ben, founded in January 2007, exists to support and develop the Delaware Valley soccer community. Through active, grassroots support, the Sons of Ben helped establish the momentum leading to the creation of the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Philadelphia Independence of the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league. In forging a relationship with Chester City, Delaware County and Pennsylvania State political leaders along with Major League Soccer, the vocal support of the group directly influenced the decision to award Philadelphia with an MLS franchise.

The Sons of Ben have provided a social outlet for soccer supporters to share common interests and be part of a larger community of sports fans in the 4th largest American media market. The organization has grown to include over 5,000 members throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and around the world. The Sons of Ben have also grown to oversee the Delaware Valley Infantry, a US Soccer supporters group based in Philadelphia region, and the Daughters of Betsy, a Philadelphia Independence (WPS) supporters group.
Charitable and philanthropic efforts have been central to the Sons of Ben since its founding, as evidenced by annual initiatives supporting the Bernardine Center in Chester, PA through its Help Kick Hunger campaign and ongoing efforts to support various other organizations close to the Delaware Valley soccer community.

The coming months will start a new chapter in the organizations noteworthy story with many historical events marking the arrival of the Philadelphia Union, Philadelphia Independence and the Sons of Ben into the national spotlight.

Converting Football Fans into Futbol Fans

It does not take much to get people to become fans of the Union, just a little passion, some knowledge of the game, and loud fans that know how to have a good time. When I have brought casual fans of soccer down to the games, many decided they wanted to get tickets for next year. Now I was on to my second step, turning the people who may have watched a World Cup game, some by accident, into the casual fan. On August 28, I had a small family birthday party to attend in Sea Isle City. The start time was 7pm, the Union/New England game was 7:30. There was no way I was going to miss this game, so I knew I had to commandeer the TV right away when I got in. You see, I married into a family of football players, not that there is anything wrong with that. When they think of soccer, they think of their 8-9-10 year olds running around a pitch on Saturdays and Sundays.

I walked into the party wearing my "Join or Die" t-shirt (which happens to be my favorite family party shirt) proceeded directly to the television, and turned on channel 6. The Union game began shortly after, and since I had control of the TV, people had the option of watching or moving to another room.

When the game started, the questions began as well, mainly:

“Why is the Ref holding the flag up?” “Is this at home?” with the follow up “Then why are there so many people cheering for Philly?” And of course: “Why are you cursing?”

I tried to explain my utter disdain for referees that take the game away from players with phantom calls and bad acting. I tried to explain the 3 substitution rule. I successfully explained (thanks to the SoBs who traveled to New England!) that our supporters club is very loud; that this is not a home game (or I would have been at the game instead of the party); that there are only about 30 supporters from our team at the game; that the supporters are very passionate; and our games typically have 17,000+ fans. It took till about half time for the questions to slow down, then I realized people were watching and enjoying the game. With my own critiquing/cursing/cheering came the critiquing/cheering from others.

After the game finished, one of my wife’s cousins came up to me and said “You know, my buddy has been trying to get me to go down to a game. He said they are a lot of fun. I think I am going to go after watching tonight.” This is how a team gains new fans. You show them a product that they can enjoy, and let the product talk for itself. The Union did just that with the win. Let’s keep the wins and fans coming!

© copyright 2014, Sons of Ben.  Main image by Earl Gardner.