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The Game Belongs to Us

We all have our journey that led us to this beautiful game of soccer. Today our Billy Mears tells about the journey that led him to the sport.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Houston Dynamo FC Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

I wanted to share with you my journey becoming a fan of this glorious game of soccer (or football). I was never really exposed to the game as a youngster and looking back I wish I would have played, but I stuck with baseball, basketball, and football. When I graduated high school in 2005, I wasn’t really a fan of the game at all, and I thought it was kind of boring (mistakes were made).

I was introduced to the game by a friend of mine and he got me excited for the World Cup that was coming later that next year in 2006. I started out playing all the FIFA games from the late 90s and that would continue in the years to come as I still play to this day. I started going to some Dynamo games with my buddies as the club was still newer to the city and I was still finding my footing as a soccer fan in general. Our group of friends took an incredibly awesome RV trip to that MLS Cup Final in Frisco in 2006. That is still one of the greatest sporting events I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing live and looking back, I wish I fully appreciated the game then like I do now.

Admittedly, I didn’t follow the Club over the years as much as I would have liked while living out of state for several years and spending a couple years working on tow boats as well. With the work schedule it made it difficult to follow sports in general, but I managed to catch some of the Texans and Astros games, but I still wasn’t necessarily fully invested in soccer just yet. After my years on the rivers and in the Gulf, I finally returned to Houston where my buddy, who has had season tickets for quite some time now, got me going back to Dynamo games again. I was beginning to gain more interest for the game in general and for our hometown Houston Dynamo.

It was around that time we got the heavy news that my older sister had been diagnosed with a series of terminal cancers, this was very difficult for our family and especially so for me as we were very close. Unfortunately, she lost her battle on 12-6-21 at just 36 years old and it was during those trying times that I decided I needed to find something positive to put my efforts and my mind into and made the decision to follow the game like never before. Like I said, I’ve always been a fan of the game in general but that was the moment I decided to explore the different leagues around the world and adopt teams like Southampton to follow as well as rekindling my love for the Dynamo and basically jumping in with both feet to explore what it really means to be a fan of one of the greatest games on the planet.

This is where I learned that it was so much more than just a game. So much more than the back-and-forth, low scoring affair it can appear to be. There is a game inside the game that I was completely unaware of where every duel, pass, run made, tackle, shot on or off target, defense, xG and all the other attributes and storylines that make this game unique. The game was packed with individual battles inside the larger war, where the skill required to produce with world class quality in those instances is truly something to behold. Even though I had just recently learned, it’s always been more than just a game. For some it’s a way to escape the monotony of the daily grind and to others it’s just a way of life or even instilled in them at a young age and passed down through the generations. For me it was a positive and creative outlet to allow some reprieve during difficult times and now it’s one of my favorite sports on this rock.

I have now been to all the home Dynamo games since the Real Salt Lake game on July 31st, 2021. Starting this season, I am also a first-time season ticket holder. More recently I had made the decision to get back out and meet some of the Dynamo community and join the conversations about the club and the group of people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with have been overwhelmingly positive and welcomed me right in. This beautiful game and our hometown Club have saved me in more ways than I could ever explain or imagine and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Sharing my story of what the game means to me has been an extremely cathartic experience and I look forward to the next chapter of my fandom. It took some very trying times in my life but that has led me down this enlightening path of discovery where I learned just how great the game can be. With the World Cup just around the corner now is as good a time as any and if you haven’t already, I encourage everyone to give it a chance to find out what the game means to you too. I hope my story inspires someone to follow in new and exciting ways because it’s never too late to fan the way you can! Learning the game on this level has been one of the greatest endeavors of my life with literally endless amounts of leagues and information to digest.

To all my Dynamo and Southampton family and friends, you are appreciated.