La Barra 608, the Latino-focused Forward Madison FC supporter’s group, has released a soccer jersey designed with a Mexican-style sarape sash and stripes based on the Nazca Lines — ancient figures of animals and people carved into the ground in Peru thousands of years ago. Figures include a hummingbird, spider, fish, condor, heron, monkey, lizard, dog, cat and others.
The animal chosen to adorn the jersey for Forward Madison?
The flamingo, of course.
The jerseys are not associated directly with Forward Madison FC; you won’t see them in a game. They’re meant to celebrate the cultural heritage of the team’s Latino fans.
They are available to order online for $55, $20 of which will be donated to Dreamers of Wisconsin, an organization that supports students and other young people who are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program.
The sleeve of the jersey also bears the logo of Luchador Tequila and Taco Bar, a new restaurant on State Street in Madison which made a $1,000 donation to Dreamers of Wisconsin to get the ball rolling.
“Latino” is a big and diverse group of cultures, notes La Barra 608 cofounder Omar Palacios.
“I think it’s important because there’s a lot of different cultures within the Latino community in the soccer world that could get included,” Palacios said. “Soccer in Latin America is just the biggest sport for a lot of these countries. And they all have their whole other history and it’s kind of nice to try to bring out some kind of history and these types of kits.
“Obviously, I’m Mexican, and I know the jerseys from Mexico, I know a little bit of the culture from Mexico, (but) I don’t want to do everything full on Mexico. But I thought that was a kind of a nice inclusion with the Peruvian lines to give it that little mix of different cultures.”
Palacios said the group will likely look to design jerseys next year highlighting other Latino cultures.
Besides the Peruvian influence of the Nazca lines, the jersey’s prominent sash is designed to resemble the woven sarape pattern found in many Mexican garments.
“It’s something a lot of Mexicans use for some kind of clothing material, whether it’s a poncho, it’s a scarf, sombreros have had that kind of design,” Palacios said.
One thing that binds Latino cultures is the Spanish language. The jersey has the words “Somos Madison” — “We are Madison” — stitched into the collar.
The jersey is designed by another Forward fan, Mark Crosby, who has designed jerseys and logos for several soccer teams and fan groups. Most recently, he’s designed La Barra’s new skull logo and the “glitch kit” worn by the Maryland Bobcats last year.
“I think La barra is incredibly important on its own because it is a space for the Latino community to feel they belong while still being within The Flock,” the club’s main supporter’s group. “And I hope that the kit does the same. It’s a sense of pride in where you’re from. They’re not things that I identify with. I am not Latin American at all. But I know that they’re important elements, to be treated with respect. When I want to put a kit together I don’t want just a fun pattern. A kit for a community should mean something. And I hope this does.”
Palacios said that as of Wednesday evening, 95 jerseys had been ordered, meaning raising $1,900 for Dreamers of Wisconsin in addition to Luchador’s $1,000 donation, and leaving La Barra very near to Palacio’s goal of selling 100. The jerseys will be available to order at The Flock’s website until April 30 and delivered in early July.