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.

The Kyle Nakazawa Interview

I wanted to get an inside perspective on the Union players, and thought, what better way then to begin interviewing them! Kyle Nakazawa has become a favorite of section 140 where I reside, so it was only fitting that he is the first to be interviewed. Below is the transcript of my interview. Matt: You grew up in Torrence, California and went to UCLA. What was it like moving to Pennsylvania? What do you miss about SoCal?

Kyle: It was a pretty drastic change I'd say moving from Southern California to Pennsylvania on the east coast, especially during last January and the cold winter we experienced. I live in West Chester and the town has really grown on me all year...I appreciate the fact that I can walk almost everywhere and I rarely need to drive, and also the fact that it is a young college town. What I do miss most about SoCal is the Pacific Ocean.

MM: Tell me about your roommates. What kind of influence have they had on you? What have you influenced/tried to influence them with?

KN: I couldn't have asked for better roommates. My living situation is great and the guys I live with are awesome. Of course I'm sure everyone knows I live with Sebastien from our cribs video. I also live with two other guys from West Chester that have been a great addition to our house. I've tried to influence them with my cooking, and we all do a fairly good job maintaining the humor in each other's lives.

MM: Were you a fan of the MLS growing up? What team were you a fan of growing up?

KN: I did grow up watching Major League Soccer and I supported my hometown LA Galaxy.

MM: The first match you played in was in LA, what was it like coming on the field in your hometown?

KN: My first MLS appearance was a really special one...I was sick all week long leading up to the LA trip so I was a little concerned that I wasn't gonna get in. But fortunately I came on in the second half. The result wasn't ideal but to make my MLS debut in front of all my friends and family was a special experience that I will cherish forever.

MM: What was it like getting your first start against the defending MLS champs (RSL)?

KN: After my debut I made my first start the next game against Salt Lake...Salt Lake is a difficult team to play against at their home as can be seen from their record at home, but I went into it like any other match and I physically felt much better than the week before. I was excited to get my first MLS start and first 90 min match.

MM: What was it like training and playing in the Ajax Amsterdam Youth Program?

KN: Training with Ajax Amsterdam was one of the most special experiences I've had as a soccer player. Being exposed to such high professionalism and such high quality soccer on a daily basis was amazing. Although still very young, we were treated like young professionals day in and day out and expected to perform and act like professionals. The soccer culture in Amsterdam incredible and my experience with Ajax significantly helped my development as a young player.

MM: What was it like playing with Galaxy Rios?

KN: Playing with the Galaxy Rios was great game training for me during my college off-season, especially since it was back home in LA. The coaching staff was great and helped to keep me in a competitive environment each week. Another perk is that we were able to train with the first team which was awesome.

MM: You have experience playing on the international level at both the U-17 and U-20 level. What are the main differences between playing internationally compared to playing in the college/pro ranks?

KN: I'd have to say that the biggest change from playing at the youth national team level and the college level is the physical aspect. I was no longer playing against guys my own age, but rather 3 or 4 years older. The physicality was the biggest adjustment. From college to pro ranks, the biggest difference is speed of play and speed of thought.

MM: What sports do you like playing/watching, besides soccer?

KN: Besides soccer I pretty much just surf and occasionally play golf...Although I have grown into quite a hockey and football fan, I support our Flyers and Eagles!

MM: What are you goals for next season?

KN: My goal for next season is to just keep improving and to have a better season than this year.

MM: What do you enjoy doing during your free time and in the offseason?

KN: In my free time I enjoy playing music: guitar and ukulele. I also enjoy surfing.

MM: Tell me about the Soccer Hawaii program.

KN: This is the first year for Kyle Nakazawa Soccer Hawaii. It is a camp on Kauai where part of my family lives, and it is going to be held from December 20th-23rd of this year. Growing up I always spent my summers on Kauai with my family. Young kids on Kauai have always been into soccer and I thought what better way to encourage the growth of the sport in young players there than to have a camp consisting of MLS and college players. All the details of the camp can be found on my website: www.kylenakazawa.com. We are anticipating a successful showing!

MM: Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to do this interview Kyle! Have a great off season and I look forward to seeing you on the pitch come March!

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