The ELF Fan Experience Video: Football is Family

By Michael Voitek

Football is family. That was a phrase spoken repeatedly amongst the fans at the Rhein Fire’s European League of Football home opener versus the Frankfurt Galaxy and experiencing the atmosphere at Schuainsland-Reisen Arena in Dusseldorf, Germany made it easy to understand their sentiment.

Fans of all ages showed up in jerseys, full face paint, and homemade costumes and partied with the thousands of other fanatics at the Fire’s pregame party. An MC stood on a large stage leading the Fire faithful in cheers and chants, head coach Jim Tomsula gave a rally speech that could make a slug run through a wall, and a band made the people dance the day away. While an NFL tailgate tends to have a clear delineation between fanbases, the crowd here was a sea of purple-adorned Galaxy lovers mingling with the Rhein Fire Faithful. There were beer and food vendors, a bouncy house, and even a mechanical bull, each getting their use from Galaxy and Fire fans alike.

The people were anxiously waiting for the start of a new season, a new team, and new hope.  They made their way into the stadium, each wondering what a new year would hold. A total of 12,655 people packed the arena in Duisburg (a new record!) as the opening kickoff sailed off the kicker’s foot and into the return man’s hands; not a fan was sitting down.

The cheers grew in volume for the Fire as the game continued and the Fire extended their lead. The loud drums of one of the Fire’s fans thumped as the team continued to march down the field and put points on the board. Chants of “Fire Up” rang out into the open air, thwarting any Galaxy cheers that tried to squeak out. Each score led to momentous eruptions in the crowd, each tackle for loss or incomplete pass, loud groans, right until the final whistle.

When the dust all settled, the Fire had run away with the game and notched an impressive 33-9 victory. Afterwards, the fans shouted and hollered as the teams shook hands and ran off the field. The party was over, the game had been won by the Fire, but the Galaxy fans were not defeated. They knew they would be back next week with something to prove. Each fan left the stadium with a smile on their face, winner or loser.

How could you be sad when you get to watch the game of football with 12,654 members of your family?

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