Soccer has become an increasingly popular sport since the early 2000s. According to a 2014 ESPN poll, 18 percent of 12-to-17-year-olds were avid MLS fans compared to only 10 percent in 2004.
Kids are not only watching soccer, but also playing it. More than 3 million players are registered under US Youth Soccer while clubs across the country continue to see an increase in participation. Almost 16,000 youth players are registered in Alabama and over 30 had committed to play at the collegiate level last year.
President of the Birmingham Hammers Morgan Copes recognized the growing attraction of soccer in 2013 and set out to bring the sport in a major context to Birmingham.
“Just because there’s a lack of professional sports in Alabama doesn’t mean that there’s not a want for them,” the club’s president said. The Birmingham Hammers’ 2015 exhibition season brought in big crowds, proving to Copes that Alabama would embrace the world’s most popular sport.
The 2016 season was the Hammer’s first season in the National Premier Soccer League, playing teams across the South including teams from Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans. Copes and his staff have taken thorough steps to make the club successful, and will continue to do so in order to improve the organization.
“We’re making sure that we do the little things right so we can keep getting better,” Copes said.
Copes and the Hammers have also used their social media presence to garner fans, with over 6,500 likes on Facebook and 2,000 followers on Twitter.
“Fans have been responsive to our social media platforms and we’re excited about the reaction,” he said.
The Hammers will play their first home game of the season on May 13 at Sicard Hollow Athletic Complex against Inter Nashville FC.