Black Arrow FC is the first of its kind.
It’s a lifestyle brand that emphasizes the black soccer community. World Soccer Shop recently teamed up with Black Arrow FC to create an exclusive look book featuring World Cup Kits, highlighting their appreciation of all communities and cultures. We were fortunate enough to be able to sit down and speak with Aaron Dolores (pictured below), the founder of Black Arrow FC.
What inspired Black Arrow?
“During the 2014 world cup, some friends and I went on a trip to several different countries while World Cup games were going on to be fully immersed in their culture. We went to places such as Croatia, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. That was my first time being in the culture of soccer and the fans and the importance of it. With the soccer industry wanting to target more African Americans both athletically and culturally, I just kind of started diving deeper into soccer. Watching it, following it, stuff like that. And so, I started asking myself, ‘how I could contribute to soccer culture myself?’”
How did Black Arrow start?
“We started by throwing parties and selling same-section tickets to a San Jose Earthquakes game. Then we did the same thing for a NYCFC game the following weekend and NYCFC actually sent their team bus to come pick us up. The idea behind it was to create a unique experience and introduce people to soccer. We kind of marketed it as ‘hey let’s get together, we’ll have a party, drink a little, and end up at a soccer game.’ From there it was all content creation and exposure with COPA90.”
When were you first introduced to soccer?
“I played since I was 5-6 years old and all the way through High School, but it was interesting looking back when you were playing soccer. Like the perspective of where you’re raised and what culture you’re a part of, you only see certain parts of soccer. When I was younger I never saw on television that it was one big stadium. But if you’re raised in Manchester, you see Old Trafford and you see this godly perspective of soccer there. Here it’s empty football fields that soccer teams play on.”
Before this, what were you doing for work?
“I still run another brand called ‘Mixology’ that’s been around for 8 years. We throw parties and we create online content about music and culture. That brand very much got into throwing parties and storytelling about musicians, music, and culture. We filmed stuff about rappers and filmed things in Jamaica and Hong Kong. Black Arrow in many ways is very similar to Mixology but in a different industry and under a different brand but utilizing a lot of the same strategy and using things I was already pretty good at. Working with Mixology prior to Black Arrow helped because I could take what I learned from my first brand and apply it to Black Arrow.”
Is Black Arrow closely involved with Atlanta United?
“First 6-7 months we were establishing the brand. Now our business model is to have Atlanta United be a client of ours. We’re not just selling tickets of theirs and bringing people to their games just for fun (even though it is a lot of fun). Now we have a lot of things that we need to bring to these teams and say here’s what we’ve already done, let’s work together in a more cohesive manner. We’re currently talking to Atlanta united, LAFC, San Jose, NYCFC, NYRB, and the MLS headquarters. So that’s kind of the next step for our business.”
What do you think of the new wave of USMNT players such as Weah, Adams, and McKinnie? How does that help with what you guys are doing, having a group of young African Americans move up the ranks on the USMNT?
“I think the future of soccer is going to include a lot of African Americans in one way or another. You know Tyler Adams has like 10k followers on Instagram, yet he is the future of the sport. I’m really excited that these guys are there as athletes and their brand visibility continues to grow and it just makes my job easier. I wasn’t that mad that the US did not make it (to the World Cup) because that makes Americans have to be a little more creative about their rooting interest in soccer, so I’m excited about that part of it.”
Is it looking up to our American athletes as role models in sports important, or are you looking for the Inaki Williams, Yaya Toure or other players of African descent?
“From a brand perspective that’s not what our focus is on at all. If I want to get more Americans into soccer, I’m going to tell them about Pogba, Lukaku, and other guys who are fully developed superstars and playing at the highest level. Sometimes in conversation I’ll challenge people and ask who do you think has more Instagram followers, Pogba or Steph curry? If you’re American, 9 times out of 10 you’ll say Steph Curry. My goal isn’t necessarily to live and die by soccer in the United States, it’s a global sport. Some of the coolest stories are happening in the premier league, Bundesliga, and other places, so we want to show the global perspective.”
What is the future of Black Arrow?
“Building on the things we have already done such as annual events, street soccer tournaments, documentaries, it’s very much an institution but building it step by step. Localizing our brand is very important.”