Why Rivalries Matter? – By Russell Finch

Russell Finch is Colorado Rush’s Girls Academy Director, sharing his thoughts on the importance of rivalries. 

Change in life is constant.  In sports it is the same. Different champions, different coaches, different players, but one constant that isn’t subject to change are rivalries within the game. Some rivalries or as they are commonly known, “Derby’s,” can be traced back to over a century. Some have rich history that has been passed on from generation to generation. Rivalries can be due to one’s pride, their belief or their affection for their city, their religion or even their history.  Each club creates a culture and within it there are strong feelings and ill will for another club.


Location of teams within a particular City is often the most common cause for a rivalry and these are also known as a “Derby.”  AC Milan vs Inter Milan (Milan Derby), Tottenham vs Arsenal (North London Derby), Man United vs Man City (Manchester Derby) Liverpool vs Everton (Merseyside Derby) and Boca vs River Plate (Super Clasico).  Then there are the rivalries created by the nature of competition of two clubs over the history of the league, such as Barcelona vs Real Madrid (El Clasico), Man United vs Liverpool (North West Derby), Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund (Der Klassiker) and many more that make fans eagerly await the bringing together of certain clubs.   Lastly, and probably the most intense and famous rivalry in a league not watched by many, is Celtic vs Rangers in the Scottish Premier League.  This rivalry stems from religion, between Catholics (Celtic) and Protestants (Rangers), known as the “Old Firm Derby”.  So fierce in its nature, it often results in deaths among fans.  You are literally born
into this rivalry, by your ancestral religious beliefs and denomination.  This is a one of a kind sporting rivalry that chooses you, you don’t get a choice in it natural makeup.

In youth sports, especially in the US, it is frowned upon to develop and create rivalries unless they are already established through the professional teams of certain youth academies (LA Galaxy vs LAFC, Seattle vs Portland Timbers etc.).  In Colorado, there is really only one true main rivalry. The rivalry means more than the location of the clubs, or their success and history within the game. The rivalry between Colorado Rush and Real Colorado is about Blue vs Red, it is about two playing styles that are very, very different and it is about two clubs that have dominated Colorado’s Youth Soccer scene for the past 15 years!  The Club colors define them as they take the field on Derby day. Every opportunity they get, regardless of being home or
away, they will want to wear their Blue and Red. The blue of Colorado Rush not only changed the landscape of youth soccer in Colorado, but around the country. Colorado Rush has produced many full time National team players, professional players and every year, since 1997, Rush has had a Youth National team player invited into every single female YNT camp, over 100 in total.

One of Rush’s most recent and well known Developed Rush players is 2018 NWSL MVP, 2018 US Soccer Player of the Year nominee and 2018 female World Female Footballer of the Year ( Ballon D’Or ) nominee, Lindsey Horan.   When they are not producing players, Rush is collecting silverware.  Rush has won 17 Youth National Championships. If it wasn’t Rush winning in Colorado, it was Real and over time that breeds not only competition, but also a rivalry.   Real has had success also. Winning a couple of National championships and producing players such as Mallory Pugh and Real has grown not only in numbers, but also success on the field. Rivalries are good for not only the game, but also developing grit in young players.  The
emotional component in a rivalry allows players to feel something that is not felt in regular season games.