Grand Rapids FC Means Family Fun
I’ll admit it…I’m a soccer mom.
While I no longer sport the mini-van, I spend a ridiculous amount of hours toting my 10 year old to games, practices and conditioning and cheering from the sidelines. I take kicks to the shins in the backyard, can tell you what off-sides means, carry chairs and umbrellas at all times, and can round up a mean after-game snack.
So when I saw one of the many amazing Grand Rapids Football Club shorts floating around on Facebook, it quickly became my goal to take the kids to a game yet this summer.
What is Grand Rapids FC?
Grand Rapids FC is an American soccer club that plays in the National Premier League.
The team was formed in 2014 and began competing just last year. They’ve had an amazing second season, losing only 1 game to Ann Arbor, securing the Great Lakes West Conference title, and have quickly gained a following in Grand Rapids, with fans coming from near and far…including us!
What to Expect at a Grand Rapids FC Game
We arrived for a Friday game around 7:00 PM and found a seat on the south side of the bleachers, right at mid-field.
Fans, including many other families with kids of all ages, quickly occupied the bleachers around us, singing along to music and blowing up their complimentary thunder sticks, as they prepared to watch GRFC’s last regular season game against Lansing.
It was then that we saw them across the field – the Grand Army.
Drums, chants, songs, smoke bombs, flags and excitement rivaling that of a World Cup game, filled the stadium, as a group of hundreds of supporters, all wearing blue, marched into the north stands.
They were passionate about the team and full of energy, singing custom songs throughout the entire 90 minute game.
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The Grand Army
They were rockstars.
And while our family loved them and sang along with their cheers, we also appreciated being across the field from them. The songs were quite loud and I discovered, after reading the lyrics, that some of them included a little ‘colorful’ language.
In addition to the buzz off the field, the game itself was full of excitement.
Headers, yellow cards, red cards, and great saves kept our attention on the turf. While the play is very physical, it’s not overly violent, making it fun for families to watch. And, although we know a little about the game, a background in soccer is not necessary at all.
Play is broken down into two 45 minute halves, with a clock that runs continuously, so it isn’t overwhelming for young children.
Concessions are available throughout, selling items such as hot dogs, popcorn and more. During this particular game, a team of U11 boys played a match on the field during half-time to entertain the crowd, but I have heard from others that at previous games all kids were invited to the field to kick balls around.
Get Your Autographs
Following the game, fans are given the opportunity to greet the players and get autographs on the south side of the field, outside the home locker room. A page is dedicated to autographs in your program, so be sure to save at least one.
Kids also presented team posters, soccer balls and in some cases, their foreheads! An obvious love of the game was demonstrated by the players, making it even more exciting to shake their hands.
One More Game Remains
Although the regular season has wrapped up, you can still cheer on the “Boys in Blue” this weekend, as they host the National Premier Soccer League Midwest Playoffs!
Grand Rapids will take the field at 7:30 PM on Friday, July 22, to face Indy Eleven, following a 4:30 PM match between Cleveland and Ann Arbor. The winner of the two will then compete on Saturday, July 23 at 7:30 PM. If GRFC takes home the win, they will have the opportunity to go to the National Championship and face teams in the US Open Cup in 2017!
Location: Games are held in Midtown, at Houseman Field (901 Fountain St NE, Grand Rapids, MI). The stadium seats 8,000.
Parking: Free parking is available in the grass lot on the north side of the stadium. Additional parking can be found on the street, as well as at Fulton Street Farmer’s Market.
Tickets: Tickets can be purchased online at grandrapidsfc.com or at the gate. Regular season prices are $10 per person. This weekend’s playoff event is also offering a two-day pass for $15 that includes admission to all 3 matches.