Decatur FC semi-pro women's soccer team sets new league attendance record

Decatur FC, a semi-professional women’s soccer team in Decatur, set a new attendance record for the Women’s Premier Soccer League.
Decatur FC competed against Georgia Impact on Friday, June 7, at Decatur High School. (Bree Hicken/Decatur FC)

Decatur FC, a semi-professional women’s soccer team in Decatur, faced the Georgia Impact on Friday, June 7, and a set a new attendance record for the Women’s Premier Soccer League. About 2,126 fans attended the game on Friday.

The team came close to setting the record at its first game on May 24, when 1,803 people attended that game. The WPSL record was 1,847 people attending a single game. Head Coach Campbell Chapman said the attendance thus far has exceeded his expectations.

Chapman and Gareth O’Sullivan, the team’s principle owners, were hoping that around 300–400 fans would attend the first game. Decatur FC was about 44 people shy of the record for the first game in May, but it has now broken the attendance record by about 279 people.

“Ticket sales were sort of slimmer to the previous home game, so we were hoping for a good crowd,” Chapman said. “I could tell even when I was coaching the game, I said to Jack, the assistant coach, there’s got to be more than 1,800 because we didn’t have anyone behind us when we coached the first game.”

He estimated that a few hundred fans sat in the bleachers behind the players’ benches on Friday evening, but no one sat in those bleachers for the first game. Chapman said it’s about more than just the numbers — it’s about growing a fan base.

“These are 2,100, most of them anyway, Decatur FC, and they are getting into the games,” Chapman said. “We’re generating a fan base, which is huge because rain or shine fans normally come out to watch a team play. If we’re creating a culture and a fan base, then onwards and upwards.”

The stands were bustling with fans throughout the game. A drummer in the front rows led chants, kids chanted and sang along higher up in the stands, and people generally enjoyed the evening. Many people were decked out in Decatur FC shirts, hats and temporary tattoos.

“Being there, that’s what you want. You want the kids singing and people feeling like they can let themselves be fans,” Chapman said.

Decatur FC tied Georgia Impact 0-0 on Friday night in a hard-fought game. Each team created a few chances to score throughout the 90 minutes, but neither team’s attackers could break down the defense and goalkeepers.

“I thought for us, for our team, we started brightly, we were on the front foot, we were creating chances,” Chapman said.

Midfielder Emma Chapman had a chance in the first half and the Impact goalkeeper made a strong save. Campbell Chapman said he thought if Decatur FC could score first, they could win the game.

“I thought if we come in with the lead, then [Impact] would have to change [its] system and then that would leave them exposed because they were playing low pressure where they weren’t coming up to put pressure on us,” Chapman said.

The second half also started strong, with Decatur attacking in the first few minutes. Georgia Impact had a strong shot on goal in the second half and started to push forward more and play more direct on the counterattack. Decatur was somewhat disjointed in the second half and the game went end-to-end with both teams looking like they would score.

“It was a good, hard-fought game,” Chapman said. “Both of us were trying to score but neither of us good break down some good defending.”

Defender Micah Bryant was the player of the match on Friday for a tackle late in the second half that stopped a scoring opportunity for the Impact.

“I think that sort of summed the game up – people trying to score but defenders being in the right place at the right time and goalkeepers making saves,” Chapman said. “When a nil-nil is exciting, you know you’re doing something right.”

Overall, Decatur FC has won three games and tied one game this season. On Sunday, June 9, Decatur hit the road and beat FC Birmingham 5-0. Midfielder Carley Borgelt was the player of the match on Sunday.

Deactur FC also won 5-0 against the Atlanta Fire on May 24 and won against the FC Nashville Wolves 6-0 on June 1.

“I’m happy with the way we’re going,” Chapman said. “We haven’t given up a goal in four games, so that’s good. We’ve beaten the teams that we should beat. The team that I knew was going to be a tough game was a tough game. We’re right on track with where I thought we would be.”

He added that the games coming up will be more competitive. Decatur FC is halfway through its season already. The team has four league games left and one exhibition game. Here is the upcoming schedule:

Tickets are $10 per person, per game, and season tickets are $45. For more information about tickets, click here. All home games kick off at 7 p.m. and are played at Decatur High School, located at 310 N. McDonough Street. Parking and a bike valet is available at the high school.

This story was provided by WABE content partner Decaturish.