As a partner in a Vancouver Whitecaps FC movement called Curva Collective, I know a thing or two about creating a positive atmosphere through collaboration. Whether you call it “football” or “soccer” (I will call it the F-word), being a member of any sporting community means celebrating the joy of winning and sharing the agony of defeat with others. Here are five community building lessons from football supporters that you can apply to in the workplace, classroom or neighbourhood.

Support is always

“Loyal to the ‘Caps we’ll be

West or East or in between…”

Offering genuine, timely and consistent support to others makes relationships – at work and home – healthier and more sustainable for the long term. Cutting-edge technical abilities or incredible sales numbers aren’t what differentiates strong leaders or strong teams. The care, compassion and support that we show each other is what makes us memorable.

A key differentiator of football supporters from pretty much every other North American sports fan is that we cheer all game long – our Capo, Zach, focuses more on leading us than he does on the action on the pitch because of his dedication to the movement.

Lead with love

“We love you, we love you, we love you

And where you play we’ll follow, we’ll follow, we’ll follow…”

So many of our songs about the club and its players creatively apply the word “love” – if your colleagues deem the subject of love unprofessional then they should read this article by Jessica Amortegui and reflect on the profound benefits of expressing love at work. When bosses lead with love and genuinely wear their emotions on their sleeve for the cause or the movement the commitment from others becomes contagious.

The dedication of folks in the Curva is inspiring. People spend days building incredibly artistic and creative displays, cheering on the Whitecaps FC2 squad, and organizing road trips for supporters. I am not one of these people (I yell as loudly as I can during games and write blog posts about it). The leaders of football supporters groups love what they do and they lead with it!

Stand up for your team

“Stand up if you love the ‘Caps…”

People want to work for organizations that we believe in. Companies and non-profits that do the right thing for their stakeholders are more likely to have their customers, members or colleagues champion their brand or engage others on the organization’s behalf. Also, literally standing up at work is better for your health and your creativity, too.

Football supporters – legit ones, anyway – stand up the whole game. Sure, it’s easier to sit in the seat you paid for, but it’s not as good for you and certainly doesn’t look as cool. Especially when everyone is bouncing in unison.

Be resilient

“We always win two-one

We’re gonna win two-one

We always win two-one

TWO-ONE!!!”

Great communities are resilient ones. That’s why I love the cheer “we always win two-one” after our team gives up the game’s first goal. An important metric of individual and organizational well-being is the ability to bounce back from a bad day. Resilience is essential if you want to thrive in the workplace and having a more resilient global financial system will help us to avoid another near-collapse like the one in 2008.

Any fan of sport knows the crushing, gut-wrenching feeling that comes with a late-game collapse that results in your team’s two goal lead evaporating or their season ending. Being able to stay standing and sing as loudly as ever requires

Have fun with it

“It’s a party

In Vancouver.

It’s a party in Vancouver

Ole, ole!”

Building a vibrant community at work, in a classroom or in your neighbourhood should be a joyful experience. According to a study from the University of Warwick, happier people are more productive because they use their time more effectively and also genuinely enjoy the time that they spend working. Achieving emotional health by cultivating joy is something that all community builders – from executives to neighbourhood organizers – should consider.

I took my friend, Eric, to a Whitecaps FC game last weekend and he declared that there’s “nothing else like it” in the realm of North American sport. Because of supporters groups like Curva Collective the fan experience is an incredibly fun way to celebrate football, soccer or whatever game you cheer for!

Photo: Jay Mayede

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