Thousands of Philadelphia Union fans stood and cheered as Matt Ansbro’s name was announced prior to the game against Seattle on Saturday. The cheers were in acknowledgment of Ansbro’s efforts as the president of the Union’s distinguished supporters group, the Sons of Ben.
“It was definitely special because I had so many of my friends there at river end, front office guys, and I have a lot of friends that were season ticket holders in the stands too,” Ansbro said about being honored pregame. “It was really cool to get all the text messages and have the type of acknowledgement.”
After spending six years with the Sons of Ben and two as president, Ansbro will step down as the head of the group officially at the end of this season. While he still plans to hold his position and responsibilities throughout 2013 via email and Skype, in a letter on the Sons of Ben website Ansbro wrote that he and his family will be moving to Dallas, Texas as he starts a new job with tech giant Apple later this month.
READ: Ansbro farewell letter
As his time with the Sons of Ben winds down, Ansbro looks back at his experience with the group and knows it is something he will always cherish.
“It has been a dynamic experience for sure,” Ansbro said. “It has been an unbelievable experience so far. I’m not done yet, but it is definitely something I am going to treasure forever.”
Ansbro joined the Sons of Ben in 2007 when the group was still in hopes for Philadelphia to be the next city to have a Major League Soccer franchise. Through his years, Ansbro has seen the Sons of Ben grow along with the Union organization to a level that exceeded everyone’s expectations.
“We had nothing to measure it on, we had nothing before,” he said about the group’s expectations when they first started out. “We had nowhere to go but up. It was really just a matter of how far it was going to go and none of us expected it to grow to the level that it has. Just to watch the evolution of the group from the early days into what it is today, you can’t help but be really happy about the way things went.”
While he has had many strong memories as a member, Ansbro still looks back at the PPL Park home opener as his most treasurable moment. .
“My favorite moment was the PPL home opener, the very first one with Seattle,” he said. “It really didn’t feel like we reached the goal until we were in the stadium at the river end and had our entire group together the way we wanted them. That’s always a really special memory. I had my family there and my youngest son was there playing soccer outside at the tailgate. It was definitely a great experience; it was definitely a high point.”
The evolution and success of the Sons of Ben would not be what it is today without the efforts of Ansbro. Over the years, he has been a vital part in creating an environment in which soccer culture could thrive. As president, Ansbro was and, until the end of this season, still is responsible for the oversight of all operational areas of the group and maintaining strong relationships with both Major League Soccer and the Union front office.
Bryan James, one of the original founders and former president of the Sons of Ben, could not be more pleased with Ansbro’s efforts and believes expectations have been exceeded.
“Matt has done a fantastic job combining his vision and passion to create a vibrant supporters culture within the Sons of Ben that the founders hoped it would be,” James said.
The Sons of Ben has grown exponentially since Ansbro first joined in 2007 to now be almost 3,000 members strong and a lot of credit goes to their current president. While he is extremely pleased with the work done so far, Ansbro is more excited to see how far the group can go in the future.
“Just to see what we have done so far, it is amazing,” Ansbro said. “I am really looking forward to seeing how far this group continues to go once my time really ends.”
The Philadelphia Union would like thank Matt Ansbro for all his work and dedication and for being a strong supporter of not only the team, but the game as a whole.
Contact Union writer Howard Hutchinson at firstname.lastname@example.org