Pancho Villa’s Army on Friends, Football and Finding Family in the Stands

Gabe Zaldivar

You want to go to a tailgate where everyone knows your name.

That’s what you get if you roll deep like Pancho Villa’s Army, a football supporter group that you hear before you see. And then you really see them coming.

Some of that army dropped by the En Fuego Podcast recently to wax poetic about sports and what it means to be a Mexican American rooting for El Tri.

It’s the kind of discussion that will have you craving a good barbecue with some friends as you talk smack about soccer like the good ol’ days before a pandemic robbed us of a lot of that frivolity.

For the uninitiated, PVA is a group of fans who share a passion for the Mexican national team. But there is so much more. Their appreciation for the sport spans a website that welcomes a million readers a month and a podcast that introduces us often to the people who make up this community.

They are also a family. The one thing we glean from this conversation is that you enter this group because you want to root on your team but you inadvertently make lifelong friends in the process.

Read More: Pancho Villa’s Army is Much More Than the World’s Greatest Fans

The conversation inevitably turns to the inherent dilemma that comes from being a Mexican American with a love of soccer.

It can be a struggle or blessing to feel equally at home in this country and in the stands rooting on El Tri, cheering with the fervor of someone who grew up watching Mexican tradition play out on the biggest of stages.

“It's really a pageantry of culture, of costumes, of ideas,” PVA founder Sergio Tristan tells En Fuego. “It all just kind of gets blended in, right? Whether you're a U.S. fan full time, whether you're a Mexico fan full time, or whether you have that duality, you know, like some other people. It all comes together in this really cool flavor in the stands.”

In the end, it doesn’t matter who you root for or who wins the game. OK, it matters a little. But what this group really cares about is the community, a group of people that not only support their team but one another.

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