Manning takes home Fan of the Match

As anyone who has ever attended a Nashville SC match in person can attest, it’s customary for the club to recognize an outstanding performance on the pitch with the Man of the Match award. It is in this spirit that the Nashville Soccer Supporters Trust will select a Fan of the Match following each home date to recognize the breadth of the incredible supporters that come out to each NSC match and help will the team to victory week in and week out.

The team slogan for Nashville SC is “Our Town. Our Club.” and while that is certainly true, the Boys in Gold also draw their fanbase from across the region as well as from the Middle Tennessee communities that surround Nashville. Matt Manning is one of those fans, and like many in the stands on a typical matchday at First Tennessee Park, he actually makes the trek up from Murfreesboro.

A city of nearly 150,000 just 30 miles down I-24, "The 'Boro" represents one of the fastest growing cities in Tennessee, and within it, Nashville SC has seen a surge in popularity and that is something that Manning has experienced first hand as the director of recreational soccer for Murfreesboro Soccer Club, which is one of the largest youth soccer organizations in the area, boasting of over 2,000 players.

“Every world cup, our numbers seem to grow, and now that we have a professional team, I see kids around town and around the schools wearing NSC shirts,” Manning said. “It’s great to have a team around here that we can keep up with, and personally, it’s gotten my kids more excited about the sport. They’re excited to go to games, and I think we’re going to continue to see exponential growth as the team moves into MLS.”

Moving to the Nashville area at nine years old, Manning experienced the growth of the sport first-hand in Middle Tennessee and personally feels a part of the uptick in popularity that has allowed NSC to flourish in its first season in the USL.

“A lot of us who grew up playing soccer feel like this is what we were building up towards,” he said. “And now as an adult, we want to help support the growth of the game in whatever way that we can.”

Manning has enjoyed a little bit of help in that regard this season as he linked up with NSC defender Bradley Bourgeois to help put on a memorable soccer camp over the summer in Murfreesboro.

“Ever since Bradley came in and helped us with our team camp, the excitement level has been totally different,” Manning said. “And it’s not just Bradley, as I’ve seen other players interacting with some of the other local clubs. They’re all fantastic with the kids, and I think it’s helped NSC too. We’ve seen parents that have taken their kids to games that maybe they’d otherwise pass on because of the interactions the kids have had with the players.”

Manning has played a key role in getting a number of other local families to buy into Nashville SC, from that invitation of Bourgeois to camp to joining forces with the Roadies to sponsor a watch party of nearly 50 for last week’s NSC match in Atlanta, his efforts to grow the game in Murfreesboro make him an easy choice for this week’s Fan of the Match.

Clay Trainum