Known for their commitment to standing and supporting their team for an entire match regardless of what is happening on the field, supporter sections are one of the signature elements of soccer culture throughout the world. BBVA Stadium is no exception, as the supporter section known as Hustle Town – made up of the groups El Batallón, Texian Army, The Surge, and Bandera Negra – serves as the heartbeat of the stadium during Dynamo matches thanks to the die-hard fans who stand behind the boys in Orange through thick and thin.
It was that devotion, and a general love for the game, that captured Daniel López and Connie Farias’ attention and enticed them to join El Batallón, one of the original supporter groups of the Houston Dynamo.
“I remember watching Monterrey games and there was always the crazy supporter section that was full no matter what, even though at that time they hadn’t won a championship in 20 or 30 years, but the fans were still packing out the stadium like they do today, going wild and going all out for their team,” López recalled. “Once I saw El Batallón doing that for my hometown team, where I was born and raised, I knew it was something I wanted to do.”
“I was born and raised in Houston, and I started going to Dynamo games when they first started in 2006 at Robertson Stadium,” Farias said, “but I would only go to a game here and there, maybe six games throughout the season. I was not in the supporter section at the time, but I wanted to be there, for sure. Any time I was outside of the section, I always remember thinking ‘Man, I really want to go over there.’ It looked like so much fun and I found myself wondering how I could get into the section.”
Eventually, each ended up becoming members of El Batallón after having chance interactions with friends who happened to already be in the group.
“In 2007, I was a freshman in high school and a member of the marching band, and I would show up to band practice with soccer jerseys or soccer related clothing on,” López explained. “One day, one of the guys in my trombone section asked if I would be interested in checking out a Dynamo game. It turns out he was one of the original members of El Batallón and invited me to hang out with them for the next game. My first game as part of the group was actually a Champions League game against CSD Municipal from Guatemala, and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
“When they opened BBVA Stadium in 2012, I started going to games a little bit more frequently, and at that time, social media was well-established, so I was posting pictures and stuff,” Farias recalled. “A family friend reached out about how she always saw where I was at the games and invited me to go with her, and she happened to be in El Batallón. I went to the next match with her, found out that I knew about three other people in the group, and really started to immerse myself into the group and eventually became a full member.”
Now, the two supporters are fully engrossed in the group, with López overseeing the instruments and directing the band on matchdays, while Farias is the leader of the female members and helps with merchandising, sales, and ticketing. In fact, both supporters equate their position within the group to having a second job due to all the planning, delegating, and preparing that occurs before gameday, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have fun once inside the stadium.
“When I’m not at work or doing something else, I’m usually doing something for the Dynamo. It’s kind of like a second job, but much more rewarding,” López joked. “My favorite part of being in the supporter section though, is after all the preparation and everything that we do during the week building up to the game, about halfway through the game, once everything is going smoothly and everyone is singing and having a good time, there is always that one window where everything is running smoothly that you get to cruise and watch the game. That is probably the best part because all the work that you have done to get everything prepared is coming together at one time.”
“I think I would say my favorite aspect is the camaraderie and the level of respect that we all have for one another,” Farias explained. “People in the group might not really know you, but they know you are somebody and respect you. We are there to have fun, but we are also there to do a job, which is to stand, sing and chant for 90 minutes, which in our heat is not easy. I remember one game I put myself on water duty and was running around handing water to anyone who seemed to need it, but we really consider ourselves to be family and we help each other out.”
While reflecting on their time as members of El Batallón, the two supporters realized they have amassed a multitude of experiences and memories they will never forget. Whether the experience occurred at Robertson Stadium, BBVA Stadium, or in enemy territory for an away game, each and every one has a special story, which made it that much more difficult to pick a favorite.
“There are so many memories, especially since I’ve been going since ’07, but my favorite memory has to be traveling to away games and building that camaraderie that we have built over time and keep growing,” López said. “The love for our team and our city continues to grow because you’re in a place that isn’t your home and you have the feeling of everyone being against you, and that is a cool feeling. That is the most exhilarating part of it.”
“I would have to say my favorite memory was in 2012 when we earned nine points in one week,” Farias explained. “We had three games in one week, which is not normal at all, and one of them was away and the other two were at home. We were exhausted, but we were so happy. Barely getting to sleep and being out in the heat for that long, it takes a toll on your body and your mind, and it was just an emotional week. We laughed and we cried, and it was all crazy, but that is my favorite memory. We were all on cloud nine.”
The opportunity to watch the Dynamo, the pride of being part of the supporter section, and the memories that are made along the way are definitely key reasons why López and Farias are members of El Batallón, but the one thing that keeps them coming back every week is love.
“I would say it is the love of the city of Houston, love of soccer, and love of the Dynamo in general that unite us,” López explained. “Everything we do is for the love of the Dynamo and the love of the city of Houston, and we do our best to display that in everything that we do. We are always open to have people join us, and I would invite people to come by and check it out. There will absolutely be a place for you, and we want to see that supporter section filled to the brim.”