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 Zach Pfeffer Interview

Photo: Paul Rudderow (Flickr)

What is it like to be a teenager and have a professional soccer contract? I sat down with Zach Pfeffer, the Philadelphia Union’s first home grown player to find out what exactly that is like. Below is the transcript of the interview.

Matt: What was it like the day you were signed as the first home grown player for the Union?

Zach: The day I signed was a fantastic day for my family and me. I was congratulated by countless family members and friends. I was very excited that I was given the opportunity to become a professional player with my home town team. Signing the contract also made me very happy that all my hard work paid off.

MM: How did your friends and school mates take to your signing a professional contract?

ZP: All of my friends were just as excited for me as I was! Everyone was very proud of me for reaching my goal of becoming a professional soccer player. They were all very supportive of the whole situation and I cannot thank all of them enough.

MM: What was it like running on the pitch for the first time with the Union against Chivas de Guadalajara?

ZP: Playing in the game against Chivas de Guadalajara was an incredible experience! It was a dream come true and I was thankful that the coaching staff gave me such a great opportunity. It was amazing playing in front of 18,000 fans and against a great team like Chivas. Playing in that game gave me even more motivation to work as hard as I can so that I can get back on the pitch as soon as possible!

MM: What is training like for the Union Academy team?

ZP: Training with the Union Academy team was great. All of my teammates as well as the coaches were fantastic. The training sessions were extremely competitive and very enjoyable! I think playing with the Union Academy definitely helped to prepare me for where I am now.

MM: Are there any combined trainings with the 1st team?

ZP: There are no combined training sessions with the first team, but all of the academy players had many opportunities to see the first team play.

MM: Do you feel the training with FC Delco a good stepping stone for the Academy team?

ZP: Yes, I feel FC Delco is a very good stepping stone for the Union Academy. FC Delco is a club with a great history of producing quality players with the help of a very experienced coaching staff.

MM: What team did you follow before the Union?

ZP: Before the Union, I always followed the MLS and all the top European Leagues (Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga, etc.). I would always wake up early on the weekends and watch all of the games on Fox Soccer Channel and Gol TV! One team I followed a lot and loved to watch was Barcelona. Even though I am now with the Union, I still continue to watch and follow all the games every week.

MM: You are a member of the Sons of Ben; did you ever sit in the River End? What experiences can you share with your team mates that have seen us during games but may have not been with us in the stands?

ZP: I have never sat in the River End so unfortunately, I cannot really share my experiences of what it is like. I know people who have sat in the River End and said it was an incredible and exciting experience. Even without sitting in the River End, it is obvious to see the passion and excitement that all of the Sons of Ben bring to every single game!

MM: What was it like training in Germany with 1899 Hoffenheim?

ZP: Training in Germany with 1899 Hoffenheim was a great experience! I have nothing but great things to say about the trip and the Hoffenheim organization as a whole. Everything is first class and the players and coaches welcomed me and made me feel right at home from the very beginning. The training was excellent and the players were obviously very good as well. Hopefully, I will continue to get back there and train with them in the near future.

MM: Did you see a difference between the training between the MLS and the Bundesliga?

ZP: The training in the Bundesliga is similar to the training in the MLS. However I think that in Germany, they focus a little more on technical work with the ball. Overall, there is not too much of a difference. In both the MLS and Bundesliga, every training session is extremely competitive and the coaches expect all the players to work very hard.

MM: What are you goals as a professional? (Premier league, Bundesliga, USMNT, Serie A)

ZP: My goals as a professional are first to excel in MLS and then move on to Europe. Right now my main focus is to learn and improve everyday and become a top MLS player. In the near future, I hope I will be able to play in Europe and have an opportunity to represent my country at the international level as well.

MM: How long until we see Jared next to you on the pitch with a Bimbo logo on your kits?

ZP: Jared currently plays with the FC Delco Academy. However, he does not plan on making soccer his profession.

MM: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. If you ever want to sit in the River End for a game, there is always a sit waiting for you.

ZP: Thanks again and hope to see you in the stands!

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