Entrepreneur Aaron Dolores won’t celebrate FIFA World Cup 2018 by traveling to its host nation of Russia. Instead, he will lead a group of 32 fellow soccer fans to Colombia, where they will immerse themselves in the South American country’s African diasporic communities and fervent soccer fan culture. The trip is Dolores’ latest project under the banner of Black Arrow FC, the lifestyle brand he created to celebrate and strengthen the junction of soccer and Black culture.
“The idea is taking African Americans to Colombia, where they are seeing Afro-Colombians—a lot of people don’t know there’s Black people there,” Dolores told The Undefeated yesterday (June 14).
“Part of what I’m trying to bring to Black people and what we’re doing in Colombia is being, like, ‘Forget what you think about the sport, forget your perception of it. Let’s just use this as a way to have fun to see what we can learn, to see what different experiences we can create.’ And that’s what’s most important.”
Dolores explained to The Undefeated that Black Arrow FC began with a realization of soccer’s cross-cultural appeal during a trip to Europe in 2014 during the World Cup. He named the brand after the moniker that Gil Heron, late Jamaican soccer player and father of artist and activist Gil Scott-Heron, received from Celtic FC fans as the Scottish team’s first Black player.
Black Arrow FC’s Facebook page now boasts over 60,000 followers. In the interview, Dolores said that despite soccer’s overwhelming global appeal, the sport’s U.S. image is closely tied to “orange slices, Capri Suns [and] soccer moms.” Black Arrow FC aims to break that stereotype by connecting Black soccer fans, both stateside and abroad. Dolores has hosted fan gatherings at games for Major League Soccer teams—including the San Jose Earthquakes, New York City FC and Atlanta United FC—under the Black Arrow banner.
Check out scenes from Black Arrow’s events in Atlanta, featuring an interview with Dolores: