Check out Pitch Invasion Interview

Peter Wilt makes waves with his interview

For those of you who haven’t been paying close attention to the career of one of the more colorful characters in American soccer, perhaps it is high time you were introduced to Peter Wilt.

Sure, we’re easily influenced by elements of his soccer management philosophy -

…what is good for the fans is usually good for the organization and investors.

If the fans are happy, engaged and supportive of the team, they will spend more money, watch more game broadcasts and promote the team better themselves.

Fans, and I am one also, ultimately cheer for the badge, the team it represents.

They don’t cheer for the organization or the owners.

Raise a Schlabst or two to Peter!Then again, perhaps we are just as easily swayed by his concoction – the Schlabst.

Yup, a mixture of bottled Schlitz beer and canned Pabst, poured into a pint glass sounds like a perfectly Midwestern way to avoid all those snooty beer snobs.

So, if you’re ever stumbling around in Milwaukee looking for a good place to catch a match, check out The Highbury where you might even be lucky enough to run into this Patron Saint of sorts.

In the meantime, you can content yourself with his musings on the web.

His latest can be found on a wonderful blog, aptly named – Pitch Invasion.

What drew our attention was that he has an interesting interview up with DC United’s very own Stephen Zack.

There are a number of things that stand out in this Q & A with the Senior (or is it Executive?) Vice President of the club and it certainly is worth the read.

One that made the historians here at the Nest Liner chuckle was the answer to his seventh question.

Stephen Zack answers questions

PW. What did DCU do…or not do…to cultivate its supporters culture?  What role did management play in the growth of Barra Brava, La Norte and Screaming Eagles?

SZ: Before we had even opened our offices in DC, we were aware of a group on the internet that had been formed in the DC area to support the new team.

I don’t recall if Big Soccer existed at that time or exactly what method they were using to communicate but we reached out to the “leader” of this group and asked if we could speak with them.

I was able to speak with Matt Mathai who would become the original president of the Screaming Eagles.

I recall he sounded nervous when we first spoke as if we were looking to shut down their activities.

Quite the opposite.

We wanted to work with them to help us promote the team and grow their support.

Shortly thereafter came the Barra Brava and then La Norte.

In all cases, we work directly with their leadership to help them grow, to provide them with the ability to support the team the way they want while at the same time, helping D.C. United to grow as well.

2 comments to Check out Pitch Invasion Interview

  • Matt Mathai

    I was asked to reproduce the comment I posted to BigSoccerre: the Stephen Zack profile, so here it is:
    Good article about one of the good guys in MLS. I think it's safe to say that we wouldn't have anywhere near the success we've all had as supporters groups without Stephen's work.

    One minor quibble with the story. DCU didn't reach out to me. They had no clue I existed. I got the number of their office in NY (before they moved down to VA) and called them out of the blue. I told them we had a web page (old-timers might recall the URL) and a mailing list of about 100 people and that we were ready to help. We began discussions on the phone and through email exchanges. That's when they agreed to provide regular updates I could pass out, and when we figured out how to conduct half of the Team Naming contest on the web site.

    Yes, I was nervous when I first talked to them on the phone, having read too many stories about clubs wanting to control or shut down independent supporters' activities. I got a lot more comfortable once I'd met Stephen and Kevin in person.

    I almost walked out of our first face-to-face meeting with them at Redskins Park because of the attitude of their Dir. of Operations – Strick Heilman (sp?) He was very arrogant and dismissive and didn't want to understand what we might bring to the table. When I said that we had 100 people, he said (and I'll never forget it) "Come back when you've got 1000 people." My response was that we had 100 people interested before they had an office, any players, or even a team name. I asked if he really wanted to ignore the grass-roots marketing force that we could grow into. 

    The team was interested in us coming under their wing – an official supporters group. They promised money, merchandise, and most importantly, player appearances. I couldn't think of anything I wanted to do less. I figured that if we did our jobs right, we'd get all of that on our own while still being able to stay independent and not surrendering the right to have our own voice. I'm very happy with the way things have worked out.

    The meeting ended quickly with nothing resolved and me in a foul mood. Dale Dermott (designer of the SE logo) and I sat down in a bar afterwards. We weren't happy at all and were quite prepared to walk away completely.

    Kevin called me a day later to chat. He apologized for Heilman and said that he thought we could work together as independent entities. Since that time, the team has been the best in the league at listening to its fans.

    Anyway, sorry to be so long-winded, but I just thought I'd give you all some background.

  • [...] Eagles you can check out his rather splendid SE Nest Liner Blog. Of particular interest, was the interview he gave to our friends at Pitch Invasion in which SE founder Mat Mathai gives a great insight in [...]

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