Munich - When Gerald Fiedler swapped his native Germany for Mexico in 2009, he had one clear objective: to share his love of FC Bayern Munich with the people of Guadalajara.
"We are ambassadors"
Making that dream a reality, though, wasn't quite as straightforward as he might have hoped.
For starters, most people haven't even tucked into their breakfast by the time the Bundesliga kicks-off its traditional round of Saturday fixtures at 15:30 CET. If you're lucky, you might catch a few highlights on cable TV, but it's Spanish giants Real Madrid and FC Barcelona who drum up the real interest in this part of the world.
For a fully-fledged Bavarian, that, naturally, is far from ideal. So Fiedler made it his mission to really show Mexico what Bayern and the Bundesliga are all about. He set about establishing Mexico's maiden Bayern Munich fan club, drawing on Article II of Bavarian Basic Law for inspiration: "We are ambassadors".
In order to become officially recognised, a fan club requires 25 members, but Fiedler rose to the challenge and soon had the makings of an army of budding Bayern supporters. Creating a webpage and making use of social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, the project soon took off.
Only a year later, "FC Bayern Mexico" had become the biggest of its type across the Americas. Not only that, it is now the most subscribed-to Bayern fan club outside of Germany, with supporters from around the globe now making up its 2,700-strong membership base - 95% of whom hail from Mexico.
"Worth so much more"
The Mexicans are really enthusiastic," says Fiedler. "We were able to convince them that the Bundesliga and FC Bayern are where it's really at." The Mexican media have also picked up on Fiedler's work, with new members flocking in their droves to the fan club's Guadalajara base on the back of local TV and radio plugs.
There is, however, a more serious side to the project. Under the banner: "We are support", Fiedler and Co. regularly visit children's homes in Mexico, as well as taking to the streets in their Bayern-clad van to hand out items such as sweets, footballs and fan paraphanalia to some of Mexico's poorest children. "It breaks my heart to see kids living in these conditions. Putting a smile on their faces is worth so much more than three points."
"Mia San Mex"
Fiedler will be hoping his beloved team keep the people of Guadalajara smiling in the UEFA Champions League, too, as the streets prepare to go Bayern-bonkers for the club's forthcoming quarter-final match-up. The game is already scheduled to be shown on cinema screens, so he won't have to watch it alone in his living room after all. As they now say in these parts, playing on Bayern's club motto Mia San Mia: "Mia San Mex" ("We are Mexican").
Florian Reinecke and Christopher Mayer-Lodge