La Barra 608 looks for other Madisonians to join the Flock now that Forward Madison FC kicked off their inaugural season in Chattanooga, TN last Saturday.
“We’re going to be at all these bars throughout the season. We’re going to be hosting watch parties during away games,” cofounder Omar Anguiano said.
Anguiano was one of about 40 people who made the trip to Chattanooga for Forward Madison FC’s first-ever match against the Red Wolves, a 1-0 loss. The stadium didn’t allow them to bring in drums, so Aguiano did the best he could — banging the lid of a garbage can.
When the Flamingos play for the first time at the Breese Stevens Field, Anguiano and about 20 of the several hundred fans standing, chanting and drumming (on real drums) in the supporter section to cheer on the team will be representing La Barra 608. Many of them will have waited for months to do so, attending events for player signings and mingling with other members of The Flock, the official supporters group, along the way.
Anguiano, his brother Jonathan Anguiano, and their friend Mario Loera founded La Barra 608 in November after proposing the idea of a Latino fan group to the The Flock President Andrew Schmidt at a signing event for striker Paulo Jr. at Nomad World Pub. Schmidt loved the idea. Omar, Jonathan and Mario began organizing not long after.
“We just sat down and started brainstorming. We thought this is going to turn into something big,” Anguiano said.
The group ended up throwing out a lot of ideas, especially when it came to the name. Anguiano said the group thought it was important the name was in Spanish. While “La Incha” entered the conversation, “La Barra,” a term used to describe the fan section in a soccer stadium, eventually won everyone over.
“We just wanted to bring a little of the Latino flavor I guess, the Latino heat,” cofounder Mario Loera said.
Loera explained while each culture has a unique way of cheering for their team during a soccer game or celebrating when their squad scores a goal, he and the cofounders of La Barra 608 wanted to highlight Latino fútbol fan traditions.
In many ways, the franchise has made an effort to highlight Madison’s Latino community. Forward Madison FC announced the signing of 27-year-old veteran Mexican futbol player Christian “Pato” Díaz to their inaugural season roster at Blue Agave Mexican Restaurant back in February. Both La Movida Spanish Radio Station and Voz Latina Newspaper were given special coverage of the event. Additionally, months ago the club hired Jovan Chavez to do outreach to Madison’s Latino communities.
“We’ve seen a lot of Latino players come on to the team and we want to provide that support,” Loera said.
Five players on the 2019 roster are of Latino descent. Anguiano hopes Spanish speaking players will find comfort in hearing fans cheering in their native language or waving flags in the stands. Anguiano said that even though the main goal of La Barra 608 is to get the Latino community involved, anyone can join.
Throughout the last few months, Anguiano said he has met a lot of new people, mainly from The Flock. All of them are just excited in the season as he and the other members of La Barra 608 are.
Anguiano and the others refer to La Barra as a community and at times a family. La Barra 608 also does community service activities like cleaning parks for the weekend or feeding the homeless or raising money for Planned Parenthood.
“That’s what’s cool about it. We’re either helping out the city or cheering on the team,” he said.
Anguiano said La Barra 608 and other members of the Flock will hangout at a variety of bars before or after games this season. Members of The Flock even receive special discounts at affiliated establishments.
Loera said he’s excited for everyone to come together throughout the season for game days. Anguiano also teased new merchandise for supporters. He also said he think its cool that Alexi Lala and Jimmy Conrad have shouted out the club.
“It’s pretty awesome that international people already following up and that a few big players have mentioned us,” he said.