How A New Supporter Group Is Growing Miami's Black Soccer Culture
Party in the city where the heat is on
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The connection is too obvious to ignore. The soccer-mad city of Miami, with all of its Latin fire and heat, also has large, thriving Black communities that just as eager to connect with the city’s soccer scene. Black Herons, a newly-formed Inter Miami supporters group, is hoping to bridge that gap, celebrating South Florida’s rich Black soccer history, and creating a more inviting atmosphere for Black supporters interested in joining the party.
In short, South Florida soccer culture has always been Black. Why not start celebrating it?
“It exists,” said Black Herons co-founder Jermaine Scott, of South Florida’s Black soccer heritage. “So it’s just a matter of tapping in and honoring what’s already there. It’s not a stretch."
Scott, a history professor and West Palm Beach native, saw the rise of several other Black supporter groups across North America, and began putting out feelers for one in Miami.
He connected with Alex Windley, a local journalist covering Inter Miami, and Adlai Bradley, along with a few other interested supporters.
“I reached out to a couple more people who thought it was a great idea,” Scott said. “So we kind of came together on Twitter, just bouncing ideas around. We started talking about a name and laying down some basic groundwork.”
After a few months of brainstorming, the group was ready to announce itself to the world.
“Around Black History Month this year, we were like, ‘You know what, let’s do it. Let’s go for it.’ We had a logo, and we just launched, and it’s been going from there,” said Scott.
Bradley was pleased with the initial reaction.
“It felt great,” he said. “I wasn’t really sure what type of reception we were going to receive. I thought it was going to build slowly and surely. But it was really encouraging to get that much support. It brings attention to the soccer community in Miami. Hopefully it draws out more people from the Black community that are thinking about supporting soccer, but they don’t want to come to the games because they feel like it’s not a place for them. So, just showing them that we are here and they’re represented, it’s a great feeling.”
For the founders of Black Herons, the connection between Miami’s Black community and soccer was obvious.
“When people see Miami, they think Latinos or Latinas, but there’s a large portion of Afro-Caribbeans and African Americans that love football,” said Windley. “I’m not a native Spanish speaker so part of me wanted some place where African Americans can just go and chill out, and be part of Inter Miami in a way that maybe the national media doesn’t see. So when I saw this I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, why didn’t this happen sooner?’”
As Black Herons started to come together, they knew that their mission needed to focus on bringing in more Black supporters, but not in a way that excluded others.
“From the outset, we wanted to make it clear that Black Herons was not a supporters group with Black people,” said Scott. “It’s all-inclusive, anyone can join. But it’s a supporters group that’s doing a particular type of work in the Black community that’s centering and prioritizing Black voices and the Black experience.”
Black Herons now joins a growing collection of Black supporters groups around North America, which includes Forward Madison’s Featherstone Flamingos, the Chicago Fire’s Black Fires, New Mexico United’s Black Diamonds, and the Washington Spirit’s Rose Room Collective. Scott credits many of those groups, along with several other Black soccer-focused podcasts and media collectives, with not only laying the groundwork for Black Herons but supporting the group in their launch.
“The idea wouldn’t have come to us if the example wasn’t already there,” said Scott. “It also gave us a sense of family outside of Inter Miami. That, we as Black supporters can tap into this Black soccer community. It doesn’t make us feel as alone.”
Though they’re only officially a few weeks old, Black Herons are already busy with early initiatives. For Black History Month they launched a social media content series, “Black and Beautiful Game in Miami” highlighting Black soccer players and their significance to the South Florida area. They’re also working on coordinating a location to watch away matches, building up membership, and laying out plans for a sharing library that celebrates Black soccer and its history. But above all, the group’s key priority is simply showing up.
“We just really want to try and establish a presence thought the community and let them know that we exist and that they can feel welcome coming to a game,” Scott said.
“When I first thought about joining a supporters group, I wasn’t sure who I was going to see,” said Bradley. “It’s been really encouraging to see people that look like me who want to support the team. It’s comforting.”
As the season approaches, the group is also eager to collaborate with Inter Miami’s three other supporters groups, The Siege, Southern Legion, and Vice City 1896 to elevate an already-electric game day atmosphere even higher. One area they hope to contribute is with an English language chant that honors the area’s rich hip hop and reggae roots.
“You could think of different Miami hip-hop artists or different reggae songs that the crowd would immediately identity with,” said Scott.
Black Herons will make its in-person debut at Inter Miami’s first home match on February 26th, against Chicago, and Scott, Bradley and Windley, who will be watching from the press box, are counting down the days.
“There’s a different side of Miami, people like me, us,” said Windley. “We love the game of football and we’re just trying to expand people’s horizons and trying to be a voice for Black supporters. We’re just here to have a place and spread Black culture, African American, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latino culture, through Miami, which is huge here and it deserves to have a voice.”