For some, the Patriots fandom was passed down to them from the generations before like a family heirloom. For others, living in New England made the decision an easy one. Almost 4,000 miles away, members of the Patriots Fans Germany - Sektion Bayern chose to cheer on the Patriots because the values, the mindset and the talent on the team proved irresistible.
Now with 20 members who regularly attend all of their events and 350 members on Facebook, they originally began as a faction of an umbrella group called Patriots Fans Germany. Realizing that there was need for a chapter in Munich, Jennifer Fritz, her husband Krischtian and Sascha Königsberg, launched their local chapter.
“Our first meeting was to watch the [AFC] championship game on Jan. 18, 2014, against the Colts,” the founders said. “Ever since then, we meet regularly, to watch the games together, and our club has continually grown.”
Though they’ve all had different journeys to finding and then cheering on the Patriots, their shared passion for the team bound them together.
“We also wanted to meet people that we may not otherwise have had the opportunity to meet who are huge Pats fans, and with whom it is more fun to watch the games, rather than sit alone at home to watch the games,” the club’s founders said in an email.
From word of mouth to business cards handed out to anyone in Patriots gear, the club finds multiple ways to reach Patriots fans in Munich. Many members of the club find Facebook as one of the easiest ways to recruit new fans.
Not only has social media helped to pull in new members, it also allows them to maintain their connection through discussions about team news and the NFL, as well as to plan group activities, like go-karting and watching German Football League games.
“Everyone is welcome in our group, whether they have a deep knowledge of the game or not, young or old, man or woman,” the founders said. “If someone is really new to the game, then we all help them to understand the rules, and we accept each other equally.”
By opening their arms to all Patriots fans, they’ve helped to build a sense of family that has become a source of strength. When one of their own, Alex Phieler, faced the daunting task of battling thyroid cancer, the club provided the emotional support he needed with fan club flag with the signatures and well wishes from all of the members.
“The friends of the fan club were the first after my wife and family to visit me in the hospital,” he said. “The visit of the group will be remembered for the rest of my life, because the experience that the group supports every member even in the worst situations gave me important additional motivation to overcome this shocking diagnosis and to concentrate on my surroundings and not only on myself.”
As they continue growing their numbers, they also have to find creative ways to watch the games. Being five hours ahead makes it tough for them to catch the Patriots in action.
Some, on rare occasions, make the trip across the globe to catch the games in person. Since everyone can’t travel to the States for every game, the club finds local pubs that will allow them to host watch parties. Using NFL Game Pass, a projector and two TVs, they create an experience for their fans that makes it easier for them to celebrate with each other and for new faces to find them.
As the Patriots’ presence in Germany grows, more fan clubs supporting the team also surface. Patriots Fans Germany – Sektion Bayern is ready for them.
“We all face the same challenges to being a football fan club here, and see ourselves as one big community,” Jennifer, Krischtian and Sascha said. “We support each other and are happy when other fan clubs are also supportive. It is important to all of us that the fan clubs grow, and we add more members to Patriots Nation in Germany.”