With the Atlanta Silverbacks hosting NASL Soccer Bowl 2013, the league’s championship game, last November, Atlanta area resident Matt Troy made sure he bought tickets to go see his hometown team play for a title. What he didn’t know was that his ticket purchase would lead to him winning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to England to see his favorite sport played at the highest level.
Troy was randomly selected as the winner of the North American Soccer League’s “Win A Trip To England” Sweepstakes, which was presented by Ludus Tours, an Austin, Texas-based company that specializes in making bucket list dreams come true for their customers.
Thanks to Ludus Tours, Troy and his son, Connor, received an incredible travel package that included airfare, hotel accommodations, and field-level tickets to see Connor’s favorite team, Liverpool, host Aston Villa at Anfield. For good measure, the Troys decided to make the most of their time over there by attending another two English Premier League clashes – Everton at West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur at Swansea City. Ludus Tours helped them arrange those day trips as well.
“Everything Ludus Tours did for us was just top class – they were on top of everything,” Troy said. “They exceeded expectations and even helped us arrange everything that wasn’t a part of the sweepstakes package. It was top notch.”
So there they were, in the stands at three different English Premier League venues. All in all, the Troys witnessed 10 goals – Liverpool and Villa played to a 2-2 draw, Spurs knocked off Swansea 3-1, and Everton and West Brom split the points, tying 1-1.
The pair of Atlanta residents sat five rows behind the goal at Liverpool, took in the game at West Brom four rows from the touchline, and sat in the upper deck with Spurs fans in their away section at Swansea.
“There were so many unforgettable moments, but I think just the overall passion that the fans have over there is on another level,” Troy said. “I mean, when we were sitting with the Spurs fans that made the trip from London to Wales, it was just amazing to see how much energy they brought to the arena. Here we were, in a section of about 2,000 away supporters, and they’re louder than the home fans, singing nonstop. It was unreal.”
Troy, an avid soccer fan and a local youth soccer referee, said that the trip got him excited about the developing soccer culture in the NASL and the rest of America’s soccer leagues. He was amazed at how knowledgeable and undyingly loyal the fans were in England. “They can read intent, in terms of what a player is thinking when he has the ball,” Troy said. “The fans over there really appreciate the subtleties of the game, which is something that was very cool to see up close and personal.”
When it was all said and done, Troy and his son, Connor, had the experience of a lifetime. After returning to Atlanta and visiting the Silverbacks offices, Troy had one last thing to say about his trip.
“My son and I are just so grateful that we got the opportunity to go over there and experience such a first-class trip. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I want to make that pretty clear,” Troy said. “For the NASL and the Silverbacks to engage Ludus Tours and offer a trip like that to their fans, it just goes to show the quality of the league and how much of a top-notch operation it is. We were totally blown away, and can’t thank all of the parties involved enough.”
Photos from Matt and Connor’s trip can be seen on the Silverbacks’ Facebook page