Atlanta's Homegrown: Footie Mob

Footie Mob, an Atlanta United fan group, is best known for its hip-hop culture and southern-style tailgates. I had a chance to sit down with Curtis Jenkins, the co-founder and president. We talked about the group’s founding and evolution.

Curtis Jenkins in front of Mercedes-Benz Stadium during the 4/20 Footie Mob Tailgate.

Diana Ward | Avant-Youth

How was the name Footie Mob conceived? I think I have an idea, but… Goodie Mob?

Yea, Goodie Mob [the Atlanta rap group] existed. I’m from East Point, where they’re from, so it was just one of those “one in one makes a lot of sense” situations, and just build off of that. Then there was another thing we did. In fact I think we named our kickball team Footie Mob just for fun.

So you didn’t really have a plan in the beginning?

It was intended initially as a joking thing that us and our friends could get on board and do. Ideally in the 2014-15 [inaugural] season, 30 of our friends were going to all get tickets together as a thing that we do. And then it kept growing and growing, and people we didn’t know started getting involved. That’s when we were like “OK this can be bigger than it is.”

@santaunited, a regular at Footie Mob tailgates
Tailgates are usually rowdy, but not overly so

And how big are you now?

I think we’re close to 2000 [people].

Wow.

Yeah. You don’t exactly know how you get from point A to point B, other than you get there and you trust the people who joined, who said they wanted to do it with you. You just kind of empower them to do things. Because otherwise, you’re stuck trying to control too much.

So you’ve relied on other people to help the group expand. Are your friends still managing this?

In a weird way yes, but that’s only because so many more people have become friends. I think the mistake anybody makes in this environment is that they try to build a business, or they try to build a thing, and what they’re actually building is a community.

Curtis giving direction as they set up the tailgate

Jenkins providing direction as they set up the tailgate. Henry Thomas | Avant-Youth

Volunteers helping members sign in and get food

Volunteers helping members sign in and get food. Diana Ward | Avant-Youth

I want to know how your culture is indicative of Atlanta. I know you guys are big into the music scene.

The music is a good place to start, because people hear it and they recognize it. Beyond that, it has to be the southern hospitality of, “hey how are you doing? Come on in and get a drink. Are you good?” If somebody is going to wander in, be welcoming to them. After that it’s “OK, now that you’re here, what do you want to do? How do you want to bring something to this?” And I think a lot of organizations are very top-down.

You sign up, attend and don’t really interact.

Right, or you attend and you interact in a way that they want you to. As opposed to, for me, “you got a good idea? OK go do it. You’re empowered. Bring it back to me, and let’s see if we can make it happen.” That draws people in and gives them a stake in the success of it. None of us can do this forever, so it’s a matter of finding as many good people who want to do as many good things as possible, and saying “here you go. Here’s your chance to be a part of this community.” Not only Footie Mob, but the larger Atlanta soccer community and therefore the larger Atlanta as a whole. By getting out of the way.

How do you think that collective sentiment translates over to the enjoyment of Atlanta United? Do you think it enhances the experience in some way?

I think it enhances [the experience] because if you build a community based on respect, trust and admiration, they don’t go anywhere. They aren’t just there for the team. They’re there for each other. So, even if the team gets a losing streak, you’re still at a watch party.

Atlanta United fans during a match in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.  Zachary Gabriel | Avant-Youth

Do you think Footie Mob does a good job representing the fan base?

When you look around at tailgates, it feels like Footie Mob has captured that. When you see people interact on Facebook or Twitter, you do see that diversity, and you want it to always stay there. You have those voices to give you a different perspective.

I think that’s one thing the league and the world could learn from. Embrace the diversity of your fan base. Embrace them in every single aspect and put them forward, because you can only grow more fans. The last thing you want is a fan not thinking they belong there.

Well said. Anything else you’d like to add?

I can’t think of anything.

Thanks Curtis.

SHARE IT:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on linkedin
Share on pocket
Share on print

0 Comments

Share your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

RELATED READS:

Atlanta United Eats

Video Assistant Gabriel Ossa and I went to the Mercedes-Benz stadium to check out the restaurants. We rated them based on three criteria: taste, bang for the buck and packability (how well you can take the food to your seats without spilling).