Staff Photo: Manny Fils Georgia Revolution women's player Jordan Young talks to fans Elizabeth Raatz, left, Victoria Raatz, Arabella Raatz (not shown) and their mother Penny Raatz after getting her autograph at the fan appreciation day the the Conyers Chick-Fil-A on Thursday.
CONYERS -- For three years, the Georgia Revolution men's and women's soccer teams have been playing under the Rockdale Youth Soccer Association. For three years, they have been thankful to the community for its support. This year was no different as they showed their fans their appreciation with an autograph signing at the Conyers Chick-Fil-A on Thursday.
"It's a good way to give back to the community," Revolution men's head coach John Sprague said. "Our guys have done a few different things and one of the things we try to preach, even though we're a summer team, is to build character and give back to the community with autograph signings after each game where the kids come on the field and hang out. It's a chance to give back and do something for the area around our whole squad, which is the Rockdale Youth."
The men's team has also given back to its fans by winning. In their first season, the Revolution were co-champions before winning their conference last year. For the team to repeat, it will have to win the rest of its games. They played the Cape Coral Hurricanes on Saturday with Miami United and the Tampa Bay Marauders left on their schedule.
The Revolution will play Miami on Tuesday before going up against the Marauders next Saturday. All games are held at the RYSA field at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $5 with children 4 and under free.
"We need to win out to take care of business," Sprague said. "I think we'll be up there."
The men's and women's conference tournaments start on July 12 with the location still to be determined.
The Revolution will also match their talents against the Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL on July 19. When the Revs hosted the Silverbacks for a U.S. Open Cup game in May, they had a crowd of about 1,000 fans.
"RYSA has done a really good job of promoting it and getting people to the games. It's a great atmosphere for these men to be in" Sprague said. "It's been very exciting."
The Revolution, who have tryouts in March, are made of combination of current college players and those who have recently graduated looking for more experience to help them advance to the next level.
"All of our players are Atlanta players outside of one I can think of," Sprague said. "A handful played at RYSA or currently coach at RYSA. Most of them have played at the local Atlanta clubs and have gone to schools like Clemson or Creighton or something like that. Then they come back for the summer and play for us to stay fit."
While the interest in soccer is not at the level it is in other parts of the world, Sprague feels that all of that can change.
"If you watch the U.S. National Team game on TV and there's like 40,000 to 50,000 people in the crowd, and they're starting to develop that atmosphere that a lot of the European or South American football cultures already have," he said.
"I think it's a generational thing. My father never played so he never pushed me to do it. Now that my kids are starting to grow up, my daughter watches soccer four times a week instead of what's on TV. It's probably something that she'll go into and so forth. I think with each generation it starts to become part of the culture. You've seen it grow and grow over the past 20 years and it's only going to become bigger."