Michael Miller was first introduced to soccer and FC Barcelona by his uncle, Hassan, who played in the Moroccan first division for Kénitra Athletic Club, more commonly known as KAC.
Led by stars including Ronald Koeman, Andoni Zubizarreta, Romario, Hristo Stoichkov, Michael Laudrup and a teenage Pep Guardiola, the Johan Cruyff-managed Barça won four consecutive LaLiga titles between 1990-94 and hoisted the UEFA Champions League trophy in 1991-92.
Why FC Barcelona though?
“My uncle loved FC Barcelona because the club where he was trained at in Morocco followed the same philosophy of Total Football that was adopted by FC Barcelona and way before them AFC Ajax,” Miller says. “That’s the philosophy that my uncle grew up with—he played every position except goalkeeper, and he ended up being a midfielder as a pro.”
Miller, a Moroccan born and raised in Montreal, remembers rushing home from school to watch Barça play midweek Champions League matches, which, at the time, were the rare opportunities he could actually watch them on Canadian TV.
As his fandom grew, so did Miller’s involvement. He later discovered a local supporters club, but with many of its members older and not as eager to recruit new members and coordinate watch parties and events, the torch was passed to Miller to reignite culés’ passion in Montreal. And in 2016, Club Blaugrana de Montréal was born.
“It’s a mix between a sports and social club revolving around the club we love but also around our local community,” Miller says. “We all love FC Barcelona and we’re all from Montreal or at least live in the city. We’re making a difference in our local community but also in the international supporters community.”
More than a peña, members of Club Blaugrana de Montréal host matchday activities and watch parties at MVP Bar Sportif, raise money for charities, participate in local rec leagues—as captain, Miller lifted the team’s first trophy last year—and even host a podcast, Blaugrana Podcast, recognized by Barça as the only French-language radio program covering the club.
As president of the peña, Miller, an extroverted certified public accountant, has made friends throughout North America and the world: all thanks to their common bond over soccer, and more importantly, FC Barcelona.
He’s traveled to and met with presidents and members of peñas in San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas and Houston, and has met members of peñas from Ukraine, France, Belgium, Spain and Morocco.
“It’s a brotherhood. It’s a strong community in and of itself,” Miller says. “Despite the different languages, cultures and nationalities, we still have that one thing that holds us together and because we have that one thing in common, we feel like we’re all the same. And it’s an incredible thing.
“I can’t imagine anything else that’s so powerful to break the barriers of cultures, languages, religions. Think of anything. The only thing I can think of is soccer. My club has given me this opportunity to see the world in a way everyone should see the world.”
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